MARION — It didn’t win any beauty pageants, but the Stormin’ Pointers couldn’t care less. Center Point-Urbana came out on top on an offensively challenged night, beating Marion 7-0 Friday at Thomas Park.
The Class 3A District 4 rivals limped into play following a non-district slate that saw them combine to play five ranked teams. With top-ranked Western Dubuque and No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier still to come, it was imperative for each team to get on track in the district opener.
The Stormin’ Pointers (2-3, 1-0) dominated first-half field position. The Marion (0-5, 0-1) defense kept it from showing up on the scoreboard. Four Center Point-Urbana drives began in Marion territory. The Stormin’ Pointers moved into Marion territory on another drive. Five times, they were turned away.
The trend began late in the first quarter.
Pinned back at their own 11, the Indians were held to a three-and-out. The ensuing punt only reached the Marion 25.
Alex Wade picked up 8 on a fourth-and-1, moving to the Indians 8-yard-line. Faced with fourth-and-goal from the 1, The Indians loaded the box and stopped Mitch Bawak in his tracks and forced a turnover on downs.
“We were just a centimeter away every time,” Wade said. “It was tough, but we’ll get better at it.”
The Indians seemingly found a breakthrough as the second quarter came to a close. Whalen returned a punt 79 yards to the Stormin’ Pointers 3 ... but a block in the back brought it back.
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Another fourth-and-two in Marion territory for CPU ended with an interception by the Indians’ Connor Whalen.
The teams combined for just 91 yards of offense and four first downs by halftime.
Center Point-Urbana used some trickery as the third quarter opened. Following a Marion three-and-out, Keegan Koppedryer rolled right, turned, and threw back left to Wade, who took it 32 yards to the Marion 34.
Next, Wade hauled in a 16-yard pass down the right sideline.
Bottled up in the first half, Wade asserted himself in the second half. Breaking four tackles behind the line of scrimmage, Wade broke free for an 18-yard touchdown.
“Our (offensive) line, I just kind of talked to them at halftime a little bit,” Wade said. “I just said ‘we’re gonna ground and pound this thing all the way.’”
Wade ripped off a 35-yard run on the Stormin’ Pointers’ next possession, but the tougher the circumstances got, the tougher the Indians defense was. On fourth-and-2 from the Marion 17, the Indians stopped the drive again.
The Indians offense could never carry over the momentum. Marion had three interceptions and just 58 yards of offense.
With one final shot from their own 9 and 1:29 to play, a halfback pass was intercepted.