Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson scored two touchdowns in only 8 seconds Friday, erasing a 7-point Marion High School lead en route to claiming a 37-25 win over the visiting Warriors.
Marion defenders shut down Trinity on their first drive, forcing a punt that gave the Warriors possession on their own 20.
Quarterback Tyler Heidebrecht engineered an 80-yard scoring drive that included two key fourth-down conversions.
Marion took an early gamble on fourth-and-inches at its own 29, and Heidebrecht plunged through the middle of the line for a first down. On the next play, Heidebrecht carried left, then cut back across the field for a 35-yard dash to the Trinity 30.
Facing fourth-and-9 at the Trinity 29, Heidebrecht connected with receiver Grif Case at the 2 to keep the drive alive. Brody Carroll scored on a 1-yard run, and Case added the extra point to give Marion a 7-0 lead with 2:20 remining in the first quarter.
“That first drive was a great drive for us,” Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said.
The Celtics answered with a drive that reached the Marion 3 as the first quarter ended.
The start of the second quarter was an 8-second whirlwind that turned the game around.
Elias Sasso scored for Trinity on the opening play, and the extra point tied the score at 7. The ensuing Trinity kickoff was a deep line-drive knuckle ball near the sideline. Carroll had trouble fielding the ball, and his momentum carried him out of bounds at the Marion 4.
On Marion’s first play of the drive, Celtic defenders crashed through to strip the ball from Heidebrecht, and Cole Bredemeier recovered the ball for a Trinity touchdown. With 11:52 remaining in the second quarter, the Celtics had suddenly claimed a 14-7 lead.
Marion wasted no time punching back. Carroll broke a 34-yard run to the Trinity 30, and the next play Heidebrecht gained 28 yards to the Trinity 2. Heidebrecht swept left for the touchdown, but Case’s extra point attempt was wide, making the score 13-14.
Warrior defensive back Jacob Harper snuffed out a Trinity scoring threat with an interception in the end zone on the next Celtic drive. Trinity got the ball back on the Marion 44 following a punt, and scored on a 23-yard run by Eric Banning to carry a 21-13 lead to the locker room.
Marion suffered a key loss right before halftime when Heidebrecht was blasted on a keeper. Heidebrecht was down on the turf for several minutes, and did not return to the game.
Marion gave up a safety early in the third quarter to fall behind 23-13, and Trinity got the ball back on its own 35. The Warriors got a break when Evan Slater recovered a Celtic fumble at the Trinity 27.
Backup quarterback Zach Robson made Trinity pay for the miscue immediately, arching a 27-yard scoring pass to Harper that trimmed the deficit to 23-19.
The Warriors gave up two long touchdown runs on consecutive drives, with Celtic David Thibault scoring on 24-yard and 44-yard jaunts that put Trinity ahead 37-19.
Marion had one more scoring drive in the fourth quarter, sparked by a one-handed reception by James Jones that moved the ball from the Marion 28 to the Trinity 19. Robson scored on a 6-yard keeper, but the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Warriors on the short end of the 37-25 final.
“We had too many missed tackles, too many players not flowing to the ball, too many assignment errors to win the game,” Thierolf said.
“The plays that decided the game didn’t go in our favor. A fumble on the goal line, a safety, a missed PAT, and a couple of big plays right after we scored, those things cost us,” Thierolf said.
Heidebrecht rushed for 106 yards and threw for 23 before leaving the game. Robson passed for 105 yards and carried the ball for 46 in relief.
“There’s the value of Zach sacrificing for us and playing junior varisity for us this year. He had four games worth of experience,” Thierolf said. “He’s smart, steady, and for him to come in and do as well as he did wasn’t a surprise to any of us.”
Trinity rushed the ball for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the Warriors gave up several long runs during the game.
“Obviously we’re not coaching them to get back into the cutback lanes,” Thierolf said. “Some cases it’s a case where we’re overpursuing, in some cases we’re not pursuing as hard as we should.”
The Warriors open district play Friday at home against Halstead, and Thierolf said the Warriors will need to make adjustments to combat Halstead’s option-oriented running offense.
“They’re similar to us. They run out of some different sets, and what they try to do is a little different than what we try to do,” Thierolf said. “They’re going to present some unique challenges. It’s just a matter of making certain every aspect of the option is taken care of on every play, and then it comes down to winning the individual battles.”
Marion seniors and their parents in football, cross-country, cheerleading, and band will be recognized prior to the start of the game Friday.