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Warriors romp Moundridge in opener

Staff writer

A game can turn in a moment. Sometimes it takes a few times to get that moment right.

In Marion’s 38-7 win over Moundridge, the moment that turned the game from a battle and took it more in the direction of a blowout was a Moundridge punt, the Wildcats facing fourth-and-4 around the 30 yard-line.

Moundridge head coach Courtney Moddelmog called a timeout before the snap. To go into half down 14-0 would be fine — Moundridge would get the ball to start the second half and could get right back in the game. But that meant getting the punt right.

After the timeout, Moundridge punted a good deep ball that rolled favorably. A penalty flag meant redoing the down. The teams lined up the play for the third time.

It was the charm for Marion.

Freshman Tyler Palic blocked the punt and Marion took possession inside the red zone with less than 30 seconds left.

Freshman quarterback Jack Schneider went with what had been working; he hit Mason Pederson for their second touchdown connection of the night.

With just over three minutes left in the half, Marion had held a narrow 8-0 lead; now, 8.6 seconds from halftime, Marion was ahead 22-0 and firmly in control against the undermanned Moundridge squad that had around 25 players.

“Moundridge played hard,” head coach Grant Thierolf said. “I thought they played really well, we just had more players than they did.”

Schneider led the Warriors down the field on their second drive of the game, which senior Adam Janzen finished with a charge up the middle for the first points of the season. Corbin Wheeler snagged a tipped Schneider pass to complete the conversion to get an 8-0 lead.

After that drive, the team’s arm wrestled across the field’s middle 40 yards. Marion forced two Moundridge fumbles. Moundridge forced two Marion fumbles. It was a close game. Then, after two Marion scores in three minutes, it wasn’t.

Schneider handled the pressure of his first start, and seemed to complete passes with ease.

“He threw the ball very well,” Thierolf said. “If we can add that in, that’s a nice complement to everything else that we’ve done. It’s a change.”

Moundridge tried to build momentum out of the half, with a 23-yard scamper to start things off. But a third-and-2 turned into a third-and-25 after two consecutive penalties. After a turnover on downs, Seth Snelling broke a long run for a touchdown. Schneider found Pederson on the conversion to give Marion a 30-point cushion.

Janzen got another touchdown after a punt of his was touched by a Moundridge player and recovered by Bryce Shults in the red zone. A Schneider bootleg made the score 38-0. With a running clock implemented, Moundridge’s DeShawn Pfeiff scored against a Marion lineup of mostly reserves in the fourth quarter.

With the first win under its belt, Marion turns its focus to Trinity Hutchinson, a team that challenged last year’s veteran-laden Warriors team.

After focusing on Moundridge, Thierolf and his staff will have their hands full preparing the team for Trinity.

“Oh jeepers,” Thierolf said as the conversation shifted from Moundridge to Trinity. “They’re big, they’re experienced. They return 15 seniors, so that’s gonna be a great challenge for us.”

Marion hosts Trinity on Friday at 7 p.m. at the football stadium.

Last modified Sept. 11, 2014

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