Friday night’s matchup featured two undefeated teams battling on the gridiron to open Class 3A District 12 play. But when the final whistle sounded, the home crowd at Warrior Stadium found little for which to cheer, as Southeast of Saline handed Marion its first loss to the tune of 48-6.
“Every once in awhile you’re going to have one of those games where everything just goes wrong, and tonight was one of those nights,” coach Grant Thierolf said. “(SES) didn’t do a thing that we didn’t practice against all week long. They just did it a whole lot better and a whole lot faster than we did.”
The Warriors could not get out of their own way in the first quarter. Southeast of Saline’s Damon Douglas cut Marion’s game-opening drive short by intercepting a Warrior pass four plays in and taking it the other way for the Trojans’ first score of the night.
Marion fumbled the snap away on its very next play from scrimmage. SES recovered at the Warrior 13-yard line and needed four plays to score. The Trojans’ 2-yard touchdown run increased SES’s lead to 16-0 at the 8:06 mark.
The Warriors then went three-and-out twice. Meanwhile, SES scored twice, first on a 4-yard touchdown run to cap a nine-play, 42-yard drive, and then on the first play of its next drive thanks to a 46-yard touchdown pass. The Trojan barrage of scoring left Marion trailing, 32-0 at the first break.
Marion punted three plays into the scoreless second quarter, then the Warriors celebrated their first defensive stop by forcing a Trojan turnover on downs. Marion did it a second time on SES’s next possession and then forced the Trojans to punt on their final possession of the half.
But offensively, Marion couldn’t find a spark, as subsequent drives ended in a lost fumble, a punt and halftime. The Warriors managed just three first downs in the first half, two of which came in the final minute of the half.
“We probably went into halftime with negative yards of total offense,” Thierolf said. “We got punched in the mouth and didn’t fight back. Plain and simple.”
The Warriors put points on the board on their first drive of the second half when Aaron Riggs crossed the goal-line for a 4-yard score, capping a 10-play, 52-yard drive. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making it 32-6 at the 5:07 mark.
SES responded with a 60-yard scoring drive to extend its lead to 40-6, a margin the Trojans took into the final break.
Marion’s next drive stalled at the Trojan 18-yard line, and SES scored once more after that, thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run to cap an 80-yard drive.
“You need humility every once in awhile, and we got a big dose of it tonight,” Thierolf said. “But that’s life. There’s a whole lot of times where they’re going to get knocked down throughout their lives, and it’s just going to be a matter of how bad they want to step up and recover. We’ve got to learn how to fight back.”
The Warriors recorded 173 yards of offense, compared to 302 for SES. Marion rushed for 121 yards, led by Riggs with 17 carries for 61 yards and one touchdown. Through the air, Jack Schneider was 5-for-10 for 52 yards. Tyler Palic led the defense with 17 tackles.
Coming—Marion (0-1, 6-1) will face Hillsboro (0-1, 2-5) Friday to continue district play. Hillsboro comes into the game after a 49-20 loss to Hesston (1-0, 4-3). SES (1-0, 7-0), meanwhile, will host Hesston.