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Friday night, the Marion County High School football team hosted the Southwestern Warriors in a game where the size of the Warriors was very apparent. For the first three quarters, this did not affect the Knights, but in the fourth quarter the Warrior size began to wear down the Knights. The game gradually was moving toward the Southwestern side, and the final score ended up being 49-21, making the Knights record on the season 2-2.
The game began with the teams swapping turnovers on rather lengthy drives in the first quarter. With 3:39 left in the first period, the Warriors capped off a drive to score the first points of the game to grab a 7-0 lead. Neither team would score again until the 4:47 mark in the second quarter when Carlos Litsey punched in a five-yard run to tie the score at seven.
Southwestern would begin to show their upper hand as the third quarter wore on. The Warriors racked up 15 points in the third period and allowed the Knights to score only once. After three complete periods, the Knights found themselves trailing 29-14. In the final frame, the Warrior size took its toll on the Knights. Southwestern tallied 20 points in the final quarter, and allowed the Knights to only score once yet again. The final score of the game was 49-21 in favor of the Warriors.
Head Coach Jeff Robbins said that the skill of the Warriors is special and they are a very talented team.
“Southwestern has several kids that will play Division One football somewhere,” he said. “We were in some extreme physical mismatches in some positions, and it finally took a toll on us in the fourth quarter.”
The fourth quarter was one that the Knights would rather forget.
“They (Southwestern) had more yardage in the fourth quarter than they had total in the first three quarters,” Robbins said. “Our kids played hard but became tired and lost some of their focus in the fourth quarter and Southwestern was able to pull away from us.”
Defensive leaders for the Knights were Ryan Peterson and Austin Turner with eight tackles each. Vincent Collins had seven tackles and Levi Mattingly had six. Jack Hagan recorded two sacks on the Southwestern quarterback and Tyran Sickles recovered a fumble.
Jeremy Mattingly and Austin Turner led the way for the home team in the rushing department. However, the size of the Warrior line prohibited the duo from racking up some of the impressive totals they have had previously. Mattingly carried the ball 15 times for 45 yards and one touchdown, while Turner had eight carries for 31 yards on the night.
Ryan Peterson completed five of his 10 passes for 33 yards, but the Southwestern defense was able to intercept two of those passes. Carlos Litsey nabbed three of those passes for 19 yards to lead the Knights. One bright spot during the game was freshman punter Aldo Perez who averaged an impressive 33.7 yards per punt.
The Knights now turn their attention to the match-up against neighboring Washington County, and some fans would like to make this game a white out. Marion County fans are being encouraged to wear white to the game.
“It’s a huge rivalry game that both teams will have no trouble getting excited about,” Robbins said.
Washington County has several offensive weapons that they rely on heavily according to Robbins.
“Quarterback Trey Abell is a great leader and athlete,” he said. “He likes to throw to Kyle Curtsinger and Conner Riney. The running attack is led by Tyler Loving and Marcue Reardon. Defensively, they are very physical and Tyler Coulter, Jordan Wright, and Jacob Settles make lots of plays for them.”
Last year’s 3-0 Commander victory was the 37th match-up of these two schools since 1970. The Knights hold a slim lead in the series, winning 20 of those 37 match-ups. The Washington County victory on Sept. 24, 2010, was the first since a Commander win on Sept. 9, 2005, when the final score was 14-8. Six of the last seven match-ups between the two rivals have been decided by seven points or fewer, with the exception being in 2009, when the Knights won 52-7.