Swathers send seniors out with loss
Warriors lose 45-24 in final home game of regular season
Three drives, three scores.
Three drives, one score.
Halftime: Hesston 22, Marion 8.
Both teams put together long drives in the first half of Thursday’s cold and windy senior night game, but Marion only once crossed the goal line. The Warriors dug too big of a hole to climb out of in the second half, losing to the district champion Threshers 45-24.
“We just got beat by a better football team tonight,” coach Grant Thierolf said. “They didn’t do anything that we hadn’t seen. It was just a matter of we didn’t play as well as we needed to play.”
Hesston ran for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, but it was called back on the first of many penalties in the game.
The next play was a 49-yard run.
Marion’s defense forced a fourth-and-6 at its own 26-yard-line, but a defensive penalty before the snap gave Hesston fourth-and-1. A quarterback keeper kept the drive going then, and again three plays later on third-and-3.
The Swathers punched through the Warrior defense for a score on third-and-6 at the 6-yard line, going up 8-0.
Marion responded with a 14-play drive where senior running back Jack Schneider scored and junior quarterback Chase Stringer added two points to tie the game.
The Warriors converted a fourth-and-2 at the Swathers 7-yard line during the drive — their only fourth-down conversion on six tries in the game.
Hesston junior running back Parker Roth scored his second of four touchdowns nine plays later.
Roth ran for 192 yards on 12 carries. Junior quarterback Cameron Cox added 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. He was a perfect six-for-six passing for 47 yards.
“We didn’t stop (Cox) or (Roth) all night long,” Thierolf said. “We just had a heck of a time putting a body on them. That was really the key to the game.”
Marion’s offense moved the ball to Hesston’s 30-yard line on the next drive, but an incomplete pass on fourth-and-5 ended the attack. Hesston scored 11 plays later.
With 2:34 left in the second quarter, Marion started its own 11-play drive. But with time running out and facing a fourth-and-11, a Warrior’s pass was intercepted.
Marion had a chance to close the gap at the start of the second half. Hesston, working against the wind, fumbled a pitch on the first play.
Marion recovered at the Hesston 28-yard line, but only moved the ball two yards before failing to convert on fourth down.
“Third quarter, we force a fumble on the first possession and then don’t do anything with that possession right there,” Thierolf said. “That was a big one.”
Hesston then scored three straight touchdowns as Marion saw two drives end on downs. The Swathers were up 45-8 with 11:38 left in the fourth quarter.
Stringer added two touchdowns to make the final score 45-24.
“It was pretty evident that we just got beat by a better team tonight and just didn’t play as well as we needed to,” Thierolf said.
Stringer rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries and completed one of eight passes. Schneider ran for 119 yards on 13 carries. Senior running back Corbin Wheeler added 45 yards on 12 carries, and junior running back Evann Heidebrect ran three times for 25 yards.
Hesston outgained Marion, 424 yards to 305. Both teams had one turnover. Hesston was 4-of-8 on third down and 2-of-4 on fourth down. Marion was 6-of-12 on third and 1-of-6 on fourth.
“We got to tackle better, and when we have an opportunity to make a play on offense, we got to make the play,” Thierolf said.
The loss put the Warriors (7-2) on the road for the first round of state playoffs, traveling to Halstead on Tuesday.
Thierolf said there would be no strategy changes.
“We just got to get attitudes better, and we got to quit playing at home,” he said. “We play better on the road.”
Both of Marion’s losses came at home, to Sterling on homecoming and Hesston on senior night.
Last modified Nov. 2, 2017