?Just a great high school football game played by two very good football teams,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?I was proud of our kids. It?s a great opportunity for us to come down here and play one of the best teams in the state.
?For us to go toe-to-toe with them and have a chance to win at the end, that?s all you can ask of your kids.?
Trailing by three with 1:04 left in the game, Marion had a chance to put together a game-winning drive.
The Warriors? final possession began at their own 41-yard line. After an Adam Janzen run on first down, Jacob Baldwin completed three consecutive passes?targeting Brad Stone, Mason Pedersen and Seth Snelling?to advance to the Meade 20-yard line.
Thierolf called timeout with 17.6 seconds left, but Baldwin?s next pass was intercepted, which sealed the game.
Despite the final score, Thierolf described the experience as a learning one.
?We got some work on a two-minute drill at the end of the game, which we never get a chance to work on, and we did it very, very well,? he said. ?There were a lot of positives we can take out of this game.?
Thierolf again praised the performance of Baldwin, who completed nine of 13 pass attempts for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
?I was very proud of Jacob Baldwin, once again doing a great job,? he said. ?First time he?s been in a pressure game, and he responded great. Did a great job running the offense.?
Mason Pedersen hauled in all three touchdown catches.
?Obviously, Mason Pedersen had a nice game,? Thierolf said. ?He doesn?t do that unless our offensive line blocks for him, so the offensive line did a great job of protecting Jacob. Even during the two-minute drill, we did a great job of moving the ball down the field.?
Marion tallied 108 rushing yards, led by Adam Janzen with 19 carries for 67 yards and a score, for a total of 301 yards of offense. Meade gained most of its 376 yards of offense on the ground, rushing for 344 yards and passing for 32.
?I was pleased with how hard our kids played,? Thierolf said. ?I thought we threw the ball well obviously. I thought we ran the ball hard. We just did a lot of good things.?
It was a scoreless first period, but the quarter ended with Meade on the move. The Buffaloes punched in the game?s first score one play into the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Friesen to Nick Finke, giving Meade a 7-0 lead after the extra-point kick.
Marion responded with its first scoring drive, covering 65 yards in seven plays. The drive culminated in a 39-yard touchdown strike from Baldwin to Pedersen, the first of three for the evening. The two-point conversion attempt failed, bringing Marion within 7-6.
But Meade was in the end zone again just four plays later on an 8-yard touchdown run by Friesen. The extra-point kick extended Meade?s lead to 14-6.
After a Warrior three-and-out, Meade marched 52 yards for another score, this time from 3 yards out, making it 20-6 with less than a minute left in the half.
Marion closed the gap when Stone returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. Baldwin?s two-point conversion put Marion within 20-14, a margin that held to halftime.
After the half, Marion had a chance to tie or take the lead, but the Warriors fumbled the ball away on their first possession.
Meade capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown that extended the Buffaloes? lead to 27-14. But Marion struck back with a seven-play, 58-yard drive to close the gap to 27-20 on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Baldwin to Pedersen.
The Warriors came up big with a defensive stop on Meade?s next possession, and Marion took over on downs at its own 49-yard line. With momentum swinging the Warriors? way, Marion took its first lead of the night on the first play of the fourth quarter when Janzen crossed the goal line from 6 yards out and added the two-point conversion for a 28-27 lead.
Marion?s lead was short-lived, however, as Meade needed only two plays to move back in front with a 61-yard touchdown scamper by Dylan Wondra for a 33-28 margin.
The teams continued to trade blows, as Marion responded with a scoring drive that culminated in Baldwin?s third touchdown pass to Pedersen, this time from 39 yards out. Baldwin?s two-point conversion put Marion back in front, 36-33, with 8:45 left in the game.
The Buffaloes? next drive took more than 7 minutes off the clock. Meade converted a key fourth-and-3 from the Marion 8-yard line and scored the winning touchdown two plays later, setting up Marion?s final possession.
Coming?Marion (4-3) will resume district play when Herington (1-6) comes to town Friday for a 7 p.m. game. Marion is 2-0 in district play; Herington is 0-3. The Railroaders have already been eliminated from the playoff race.