Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

Fourth-down conversions propel Flyers

By Randy Bruns

St. Henry's Cory Siefring catches a pass in front of Marion Local's Greg Schwiet. . .

MARIA STEIN - The Marion Local Flyers expanded the meaning of the term 'four-down territory' on Friday night with a pair of gutsy conversions that helped them beat the St. Henry Redskins 34-12.
The Flyers rolled the dice twice while deep in their own territory during a key third-quarter possession, and both times they hit the jackpot to keep the drive alive. The end result was a touchdown that made it a two-possession game and the Redskins never threatened thereafter.
The win pushes Marion Local to 6-0 on the year and 4-0 in the Midwest Athletic Conference while St. Henry falls to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in league play.
The Flyers' key conversions came right after a bit of good fortune. The Redskins trailed 20-12 early in the third period and drove the ball deep into Flyers' territory, but a fumble gave the ball back to the hosts at their own two-yard line.
Three rushes gained just nine yards to the Marion 11, but coach Tim Goodwin elected to go for broke and was rewarded when Niles Keller plowed forward for five yards and a first down. Three plays later, the Flyers were faced with the same fourth-and-short situation at their own 26, and this time Chris Kemper took the handoff and put his head down to move the sticks.
Two more conventional first downs followed before Keller started up the middle and then busted it outside for a 45-yard scoring scamper that gave the hosts a 15-point lead.
"I don't know, maybe I wasn't thinking," joked Goodwin about his fourth-down calls. "But really, if we can't get a half a yard in that situation then they deserve to get a chance to tie it up. I went for it because I didn't want them to get the ball back with the way they were moving it on us."
Indeed, the Redskins' offense certainly had their moments, especially early in the game. On their opening drive, the visitors drove methodically down the field behind the accurate arm of quarterback Kyle Stahl. The sophomore threw three tosses for first downs, including a 25-yard strike to Matt Osterholt that brought the ball to the Flyers' eight-yard line. The hosts' defense then stiffened, but Alex Post came on to boot a 25-yard field goal to give the Redskins an early lead.
Marion responded with a long drive of its own and it took two fourth-down conversions to keep it going. Keller finally powered over from four yards out to give the hosts a 7-3 advantage.
St. Henry countered with its defense, as Dylan Schwieterman snared his sixth interception of the year and returned it to the Marion eight. Stahl then called his own number on a bootleg and trotted in for the score.
When the Flyers got the ball back, a quick three-and-out put them in punt formation, but the snap was low and St. Henry recorded the safety that made the score 12-7.
The Flyers then cranked up their offense to end the half by scoring on their last two possessions. On the first one, Marion's version of Alex Post carried the ball seven times for 45 yards before Mescher danced to pay dirt from 12 yards out. The capper to the half came in the last three minutes, as once again the Flyers went for it two times on fourth down and made them both. After the second conversion, Mescher found Greg Schwieterman in the end zone and the senior made a leaping catch to give the Flyers a 20-12 lead at halftime.
"They've got such good size up front and we were a little bit out-manned in that department," said St. Henry assistant coach Frank Griesdorn. "They were able to get short yardage when they needed it and unfortunately we gave up a couple big plays that were killers. In games like this you can't make mistakes like we made tonight. There's just no way."
Both teams return to action next Friday, as St. Henry travels to Minster to take on the resurgent Wildcats while Marion will play host to the Parkway Panthers.
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