Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – For the first half off Friday’s opening-round matchup with Clear Creek Amana it appeared Marion was poised to play the role of pesky opening-round opponent to perfection.
It turns out Marion was prepared to do a lot more than just hang around.
Underdog Marion scored 18 unanswered points in the second half to stun Clear Creek Amana 18-14 in a Class 3A postseason opener at Clipper Field in Tiffin.
“They just kept hanging around and hanging around and that’s what good teams do,” Clear Creek Amana coach Gabe Bakker said. “We made a few mistakes here and there but credit to them. We just couldn’t overcome those mistakes today.”
Marion (3-4) snapped a four-game losing streak with the loss and advanced to take on 3A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier (7-0) in the 3A second round next Friday in Cedar Rapids.
The loss was the second straight for Clear Creek Amana which closed the COVID-19 shortened season (4-4).
“I’ve been proud of our kids through the whole ordeal,” Bakker said. “They’ve come to work every day not knowing if we were getting a phone call saying we can’t play. They’ve been through a lot just like every kid in Iowa has and I’m proud of them an always will be proud to be their coach.”
Marion lost four straight games to end the regular season and fell into a 14-0 halftime hole on Friday after Clear Creek Amana senior quarterback Ryan Navara tossed a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes.
Any chance for Marion to get back into the game seemed to go evaporite as Clear Creek Amana held the Indians out of the endzone from the 5-yard line on the final play of the first half.
Marion grabbed the momentum coming out of the locker room anyway.
After its defense forced a 3-and-out Marion scored a touchdown on its first offensive play of the second half on a 61-yard touchdown off a double reverse pass.
Receiver Wyatt Cannon tossed a ball toward quarterback Alex Mota who made a leaping grab in double coverage, broke a tackle and went the final 30 yards to the end zone.
“I think early it was just going back and forth feeling each other out,” Bakker said. “After we went up two scores and they hit that trick play and the momentum started going their way a little bit.”
The momentum never shifted off the Marion sideline.
The Indians marched 83 yards in 13 plays, covering all 83 yards on running plays, and cut the lead to 14-12 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Mota with 9:10 left.
Mota had 68 of his 86 rushing yards on that scoring drive including runs of 10 and 13 yards on third-and-long plays.
Behind its sophomore quarterback Marion had 106 of its 138 rushing yards in the second half.
Meanwhile Clear Creek Amana couldn’t get any traction on offense.
Seven second-half Clipper possessions resulted in four punts and a fumble and produced 112 total yards and six first downs.
“Credit to them for winning the time of possession and keeping the ball away from us so we couldn’t get any good rhythm,” Bakker said. “We missed on two or three shots down the field that I think were right there to get and if we hit one of those who knows what changes.”
Marion took its first lead after Mota returned the third lost Clear Creek Amana fumble of the game 29 yards to the Clipper 31 yard line.
Four plays later senior Lucas Unsen scored on a 2-yard run to put Marion up 18-14 with 6:52 left.
Clear Creek Amana got two more chances to take the lead but went three-and-out on its next possession.
The Clippers got the ball back one final time but after two first downs turned it over on downs at the Marion 40.
“They took away our short passing game and that’s why we did try to take some shots and if we get one or two of those I think that opens things up but that’s a credit to them,” Bakker said. “Taking away our short passing game kind of hurt, we did get some chunk yardage in the running game but when you turn the ball over it changes the game.”
Senior Alex Figueroa rushed for 119 yards on 22 carries and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass while Navara completed 10-of-17 passes for 98 yards and two scores.
Navara also rushed for 30 yards while senior Tom Johnson caught five passes for 51 yards.
“That was our first group of freshman so they are always going to have a special place in my heart, they are always going to be my guys, they are always going to be our guys,” Bakker said. “I hate to see the season end for them like this on our home field because there is a lot of love in this place.”
First down 15 12
Rushes-yards 41-190 37-138
Comp-Att-Int 10-18-0 7-15-2
Passing yards 98 128
Total yards 288 266
Punts-avg. 6-37.2 5-38.4
Fumbles-lost 4-3 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-27 3-20
Clear Creek Amana 0 14 0 0 – 14
Marion 0 0 6 12 – 18
CCA – Alex Figueroa 15 pass from Ryan Navara (Anthony Hennes kick)
CCA – Tom Johnson 12 pass from Navara (Hennes kick)
MAR – Wyatt Cannon 61 pass to Alex Mota (Pass failed)
MAR – Mota 1 run (Run failed)
MAR – Lucas Unsen 2 run (Kick failed)
RUSHING – Clear Creek Amana: Alex Figueroa 22-119, Ryan Navara 15-30, Gage Freeman 2-32, Harrison Cory 2-9. Marion: Alex Mota 16-86, Lucas Unsen 17-55, Carter Scott 2-2, Team 2-(-5).
PASSING – Clear Creek Amana: Ryan Navara 10-17-0 98, Ben Swails 0-1-0 0. Marion: Mota 6-12-1 67, Wyatt Canon 1-1-0 61, Lucas Unsen 0-2-1 0.
RECEIVING – Clear Creek Amana: Tom Johnson 5-51, Gage Freeman 2-13, Alex Figueroa 1-15, Brock Reade 1-9, Harrison Rosenberg 1-9. Marion: Wyatt Cannon 3-14, Lucas Unsen 2-13, Alex Mota 1-61, Ryan Paulsen 1-40.