?We told the kids all week long it?s going to come down to five or six plays, and that?s what it came down to,? coach Grant Thierolf said.
The Warriors at times struggled to contain the speedy Cardinal offense; on the other side of the ball, they faced an Ell-Saline defense anchored by defensive tackle Evan Morrical, a first-team all-league pick on both offense and defense a year ago.
Thierolf said Ell-Saline has ?two of the best players in the league? in quarterback Louie Arceo and Evan Morrical.
?We haven?t blocked Evan Morrical for three years,? he said. ?The guy?s been a great football player, and that?s why he?s an all-state kid.?
Three Cardinals surpassed the century-mark in rushing yards, led by Arceo with 15 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Garrett Jacobson added 110 yards on 11 carries, while Cody Walters carried the ball 13 times for 101 yards and a score.
Thierolf said his team will try to eliminate the success the Cardinal offense found around the outside.
?They do a great job of blocking on the perimeter with their wide receivers,? he said. ?That?s something that we can learn from and we?ll get better at.?
It was a scoreless first quarter, and the Warriors put the first points on the board when Jack Schneider connected with Mason Pedersen for an 8-yard touchdown pass, capping a nine-play, 68-yard drive. Schneider?s two-point conversion attempt failed for a 6-0 lead with 10:25 left in the half.
After recovering a Cardinal fumble on the kickoff return, Marion turned the ball over on downs. Ell-Saline then put together a seven-play scoring drive, capped by a 27-yard touchdown run by Walters. Arceo added the two-point conversion for an 8-6 Cardinal lead at the 5:07 mark.
Following Marion?s three-and-out, Ell-Saline scored once more before the break. Five plays into the drive, Arceo broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown scamper up the middle. The two-point conversion made it 16-6.
After the Warriors were forced to punt on the opening drive of the second half, Ell-Saline responded with its final scoring drive. A 37-yard run by Jacobson set up Arceo?s run around the right side for a 54-yard score. The two-point conversion attempt failed, giving Ell-Saline a 22-6 lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter.
Marion managed one final scoring drive, covering 70 yards in 12 plays and scoring on a 7-yard run by Adam Janzen. The two-point conversion failed, making the final 22-12 margin with 8:50 left in the game.
Marion made a defensive stop on the next possession, but Schneider was intercepted on the third play from scrimmage, allowing Ell-Saline to absorb the final 3:39.
?I was pleased that we came back and got a score in the second half,? Thierolf said. ?We just made way too many errors tonight.?
The Warriors tallied 173 yards of offense?138 yards on the ground, led by Schneider with 11 carries for 78 yards, and 35 yards through the air on 5-for-12 passing by Schneider.
Ell-Saline, meanwhile, rolled up 453 yards of offense, including 411 yards rushing. Arceo completed four of 11 passes for 42 yards.
Coming?Marion (2-2) will host Chase County (1-3) at 7 p.m. Friday to kick off district play. Chase County is coming off a 39-12 loss to Lyndon.
?We?re starting a new season now,? Thierolf said. ?Districts start next week, and that?s got to be the focus of what we do.?
Thierolf said the games leading up to this point have prepared the Warriors well for district competition.
?We?ve played some good football teams?(Hutchin?son) Trinity and Ell-Saline?and I think the physical aspect of those games has prepared us well.?