HESSTON — Early on it looked like Hesston would run away with a massive blowout of Marion in the defacto district football championship game Thursday night, but the Warriors did not go quietly into the night as Hesston held off Marion in a 57-24 win.
Hesston opened the game with a strong defensive effort, holding the Marion offense scoreless in the first half before Marion got rolling in the third quarter.
“I have to give it up to my team mates,” said sophomore Sean Duerksen, whose play on the line helped shut down the Marion offense. “I just tried to read their plays. … I just did my job as best I could.”
Hesston raced out to a 35-2 lead in the first half — behind a defense that stymied Marion, especially after Warrior starting quarterback Jack Schneider left the game with an injured leg.
“That was huge and you can not discount that, we had played very well up to that point,” Hesston coach Clint Rider said. “You hate to see that for a kid who a senior in his last game, to go out like that.”
Marion came out on fire in the second half, behind third-string quarterback Chase Stringer who found a wide open Bryce Shults for a pair of long touchdowns. Marion was also able to get a 72-yard punt return from Mason Pedersen, pulling the Warriors within 11 points with 5:07 to play in the third quarter.
“Our defense played really well until that gap,” Duerksen said. “We were spot on.”
Hesston's offense found its legs, namely behind starting tailback Parker Roth and quarterback Zach Esau. Esau capped a six play drive with a 22 yard touchdown run to get Hesston back in the scoring column. A minute and a half later he added a 31-yard touchdown pass to Alex Hostetler, which was followed by a fake field goal that resulted in a two-point conversion pass from Zach Voght to Zach Anderson that put distance between the Swathers and Warriors — 50-24 with 1:24 left in the quarter.
The Swathers added a rushing touchdown from Hostetler with 5:26 left to play to put the game out of reach and wrap up a 3-0 district record and title.
“Offensively it was a by committee thing tonight,” Rider said. “Voghts had some good receptions for touchdowns, Esau had a good game throwing the ball, Roth was running very well and the offensive line was moving people around.”
Hesston will host Sterling on Tuesday night in the first round of the playoffs.
Marion 2 0 22 0 —24
Hesston 20 15 15 7 —57
1q. H Hostetler 37-yd. pass from Esau (Whitsitt kick) 10:59
1q. M Baldwin sack for safety 7:32
1q. H Esau 8-yd. run (Whitsitt kick) 4:49
1q. H Roth 8-yd. run (pass failed) :01
2q. H Esau, 19-yd. run (Roth run) 7:57
2q. H Vogt 11-yd. pass from Esau (Whitsitt kick) :30
3q. M Shults 44-yd. pass from Stringer (Stringer run) 10:06
3q. M Shults 56-yd. pass from Stringer (Riggs run) 6:37
3q. M Pederson 72-yd. punt return (run failed) 5:07
3q. H Esau 21 yard run. (Whitsitt kick) 3;29
3q. H Hostetler 31-yd. pass from Esau (Anderson pass from Vogt) 1:24
4q. H Hosteter 1-yd. run (Whitsitt kick) 5:26
First downs 12 23
Rushing-yards 38-130 49-230
Passing yards 136 213
Comp-att-int 6-14-1 11-18-1
Punts-avg. 3-28.0 2-26.5
Fumbles-lost 5-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-35 4-40
Time of poss. 22:16 25:44
RUSHING — Marion: Riggs 17-96-0, Schneider 6-29-0, Wheeler 7-24-0, E. Heidebrecht 1-5-0, P. Heidebrecht 2-(-4)-0, Stringer 5-(-20)-0. Hesston: Roth 17-108-1, Esau 17-85-2, Hostetler 7-23-1, Merchant 5-15-0, Eilert 1-2-0, Anderson 2-(-3)-0.
PASSING — Marion: Stringer 5-9-127-2-0, Schneider 1-4-9-0-0, Wheeler 0-1-0-0-1. Hesston: Esau 10-17-191-3.
RECEIVING — Marion: Shults 2-100-2, Stuchlik 2-15-0, Hoffner 1-12-0, P. Heidbrecht 1-9-0. Hesston: Vogt 4-88-1, Hostetler 4-70-2, Bachman 1-5-0, Nebel 1-18-0, Roth 1-12-0.