Playing against NCC rival Lafayette Jefferson for the first time in three years, and despite a valiant effort on Friday evening, the Marion Giants fell behind early and never recovered in a 43-21 loss to the Bronchos.
With the defeat, the Giants fell to 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the NCC.
The Bronchos compiled nearly 500 yards of offense – 461 to be exact – and 326 yards on the ground to go along with six touchdowns. Edward Norton scored four of those touchdowns, rushing for 150 yards in the process. Thomas Hogan added one rushing touchdown, while Lafayette Jefferson quarterback Brady Preston also scored on the ground.
The Giants, on the other hand, finished with just 164 yards, 113 of those courtesy of Khalid Stamps. Stamps also led Marion in receiving yards with 25.
Despite the final score, however, the Giants battled from start to finish. At no point, regardless of the point spread, did Marion stop playing or give up.
Marion’s defense, despite giving up 43 points, created four turnovers – three interceptions and a fumble recovery – two of which led to touchdowns.
The effort was always there, and for Head Coach James Bell, that was the most important thing. Overall, he was proud of the way his team played tonight against the No. 4 team in Indiana 6A football.
“They’re 6A, so they’ve got numbers. We just had to go out and battle and live with the results,” Marion Head Coach James Bell said. “I’m proud of them. I can’t say anything. I’m proud of these guys. They played hard and worked hard. These are great young men, and I am proud to be their coach.”
Marion’s offense struggled to move much in the first half, punting five times and turning the ball over once on downs, and the Bronchos took advantage. Lafayette Jefferson took a 15-0 lead after the first quarter after a pair of touchdown runs from Hogan and Norton and increased their advantage to 22-0 on Norton’s second touchdown scamper from two yards out.
The Giants, however, were able to get on the scoreboard before halftime. With the Bronchos at their own 29-yard line, a Preston pass was tipped and intercepted by Marion defensive lineman Martiave Smith, setting the Giants up on the Lafayette Jefferson 15-yard line. Five plays later, Malachi Silmon punched it in from one-yard out, cutting the Bronchos’ lead to 22-7 at halftime.
Marion never got any closer than two scores, but the Giants continued to fight in the second half. Early in the fourth, trailing 29-7, the Giants’ defense forced a fumble, and cornerback Ty Coleman scooped it up at midfield and rumbled his way to the endzone. Late in the game, Marques Smith collected Marion’s third interception on a tip, which led to their final score of the night – a two-yard plunge from Khalid Stamps.
“We knew our kids would fight, because each week, they’ve gotten better,” Bell said. “They got better tonight.”
With three games remaining in the regular season against Muncie Central, Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, and McCutcheon, Bell and the Giants plan to keep building and preparing for their playoff run.
“We have to eliminate turnovers, and then come out and have that fight,” Bell said. “Then, we have to be cohesive and be together. Iron sharpens iron, and as men, we have to sharpen one another. We have to pull one another up.”