Drew Maddox ran out the rekick to the Warrior 48?meaning that the penalty against the Trojans actually cost Marion 10 yards of field position. But the strange officiating did not affect the subsequent series nearly as much as the Warriors second fumble of the quarter, which was returned 50-plus yards to set up first-and-goal from the five for SES.
Aided by a pair of false starts?and one spectacular defensive play by Matt Thierolf, who snared Beneke in the backfield when the Trojan quarterback tried to run it in on second-and-1?the Warriors held their ground.
Marion took over on downs at their own 15 and marched out to midfield before SES forced a punt, which Luke Gordon planted at the Saline 21.
After a 3-and-out, Marion regained possession at its own 27, but Layton Everhart intercepted Mitchell Leppke with 1:58 left in the half.
The turnover set up a 20-yard Beneke touchdown pass that gave the visitors a 20-0 halftime lead.
?SES played very well and were very physical on the perimeter with the WR blocking,? Thierolf said. ? We did some good things in the second half to inch back in the ball game but we didn’t finish our drives the way we should have.?
Marion received the opening kick in the second half and strung together a 9-play set that ended with the Warriors fourth lost fumble of the night.
Beneke scored his third rushing touchdown with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter.
But just when it seemed that the Warriors might fade quietly into the night, a 40-yard completion from Mitchell Leppke to Dillon Wildin ignited the offense.
Five plays later, Washington put Marion on the scoreboard with an end-around run seven seconds into the fourth period.
After a missed point-after kick, the Marion defense stood tall and regained possession for the offense.
On First-and-10 at the SES 25, Leppke hit Gordon with a touchdown pass with 9:35 to go. A 2-point conversion try failed, but the momentum tilted dramatically in Marion’s favor.
Four plays after the subsequent kickoff, Leppke intercepted Beneke, and Marion took over near midfield.
After a short gain by Sheldon Boone, Leppke bounced a 33-yard run down the Trojan sideline, setting up first-and-goal at the SES 7.
Then came the strangest play of the night, as a Trojans defensive lineman broke out of a mass of red and white, charging downfield with the ball.
Washington ran him down from behind, and punched the ball out near midfield. Tylor Neil then recovered for Marion, but it cost the Warriors 80 yards.
?It was a great effort by Marc, Tylor and Adam Regnier to chase down the back and force the fumble, but the loss of yardage was too big to overcome,? Thierolf said. ?We will work this week on finishing drives.?
SES forced a punt and ran out the clock on nine consecutive runs by Beneke, and two kneel downs.
Coming?Marion (6-2) travels to Hillsboro (5-3) for a match to determine which team will advance to bi-district play. With wins over both Marion and Hillsboro, SES has clinched the district title.