CENTER POINT — Marion had come up short in a couple of games in the non-district portion of its schedule.
The Indians were facing it again Friday night in their Class 3A, District 4 opener against Center-Point Urbana.
Trailing 21-16 with just over a minute remaining and facing a 4th-and-long, Trevor Paulson hit Mitch McAllister over the middle and he toted the ball to the CPU 1. On the next play, Paulson carried it in for the winning score as Marion prevailed, 24-21, before a packed house at Rogers Field.
The hosts had one final chance, driving to the Marion 35. On the last play of the game, quarterback Kole Tupa lofted one up that was hauled in by Alex Wade for what would have been the winning score. Officials ruled that Wade didn’t come down in bounds, setting off a wild celebration on the Marion side of the field.
Marion (2-3, 1-0) dominated statistically, but struggled in the red zone. The Indians had to three times settle for Jaffer Murphy field goals and Paulson was picked off in the end zone to stop another drive.
CPU built a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Tupa hit Caleb Andrews with a 24-yard scoring pass and on the next Marion drive, Max Chesmore stepped in front of an Indians receiver to pick off Paulson and go 35 yards untouched into the end zone.
Devin Smith popped through the line for a 56-yard scoring run in the third quarter, putting the hosts up 21-13. The Stormin’ Pointers were driving for what would have been a clinching score, but Tupa was picked off in the end zone, setting the stage for Marion’s winning drive.
Paulson rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries and completed just 9-of-30 passes for 163 yards.
The Marion defense held CPU to just 240 yards of total offense.
Tupa threw for 116 yards for CPU.