Marion was in the ball game until the end, but the Warriors missed scoring opportunities in the red zone that left them with a 34-21 loss to a strong Southeast of Saline team.
With the loss, the Warriors dropped to 5-3 for the year and 1-1 in district play. Southeast, which improved to 2-0 in district play and 7-1 overall, clinched the district title with the victory.
?We?ve been that close to beating three really good teams and we?ve lost all three,? said coach Grant Thierolf. ?We?ve just got to get over the hump. We?re a good football team. We?re still going to keep on fighting.
?We went toe-to-toe with these guys and just came out with the short end of the thing.?
Marion struck first in Friday?s game, cashing in on a Brody Carroll interception of Trojan quarterback Nathan Peterson when Colten Johnson found the end zone from two yards out. Grif Case?s kick made it 7-0.
Peterson responded with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cole Brightbill at the 3:20 mark. The kick failed, keeping the Warriors on top, 7-6, at quarter?s end.
Southeast took the lead for good when Brock Long scored the first of his three touchdowns for the game, this one from 13 yards out 28 seconds into the second quarter. The kick failed, keeping Marion close at 13-12.
Long followed with a three-yard touchdown run with 6:03 left in the half. With a successful kick by Jacob Harding, the Trojans led, 19-7.
Marion put itself back into contention when Cole Lewman followed a 43-yard pass reception to James Jones with a five-yard scoring run with 3:20 left in the half. Case kicked the extra point to narrow the margin to 19-14.
Johnson prevented further damage right before intermission when he intercepted a pass by Peterson to end a scoring threat.
The Trojans pushed their lead to 27-14 when Long scored for the third time, this time from a yard out, and Peterson ran in the two-point conversion.
Carroll?s 47-yard run gave the Warriors a first down at the Trojan 13. Dakin Ledford then caught Lewman?s pass for a 19-yard score with 4:11 left in the third quarter to pull Marion to within, 27-21.
In the fourth quarter, Marion?s drive for the lead ended when Southeast recovered a Taylor Heidebrecht fumble at the Trojan 15-yard line. Shortly after, Peterson connected with Brightbill for a 74-yard scoring strike that put the outcome in doubt at 34-21.
A 44-yard pass to Ledford with 5:29 left in the game set up the Warriors for a much-needed score. But the Warriors ran out of downs with an incomplete at the Trojan 11.
The physical Trojans limited the Warrior ground game to 118 rushing yards on 29 carries while Southeast rolled up 277 yards on 41 carries.
?We threw the ball pretty well tonight,? Thierolf said. ?We gave up a lot on defense, but you know, we hung in there. We had chances to win late in the game, we just couldn?t convert inside the 20. You just can?t do that against good football teams.?
Coming?Marion will play for a berth in the state playoffs when the Warriors host Hillsboro at 7 p.m. Thursday. The winner will advance to bi-district play the following Tuesday with an opponent yet to be named.