MARION — They have to strap it right back up and play again in just five days, but the whooping and the hollering and the joyous singing you heard from their locker room late Saturday afternoon told you the Marion Indians don’t care.
They’ll go into a Thursday night game in the Quad Cities against a really good Davenport Assumption team on a bona fide win streak.
You might not consider one victory in a row a streak, but tell that to these kids. A 29-20 win over Center Point-Urbana at Linn-Mar Stadium (its home away from home for this strange COVID-19/derecho season) was the first for Marion since October of 2018.
Say so long to that 0-9 season of a year ago and those 11 losses in a row. Those are in the rearview mirror.
“Means so much coming out here the first game of the year and getting a hard-fought win,” said Marion senior back-linebacker Carter Scott. “CPU played amazing, we had our ups and downs, but we pulled through as a team. That celebration in there was just pure happiness.”
Sophomore quarterback Alex Mota had three touchdown runs, a TD pass, two two-point conversion passes and just about 300 total yards in his first varsity start. His 65-yard scoring run off a read-option keeper with 3:28 to go quelled a Center Point-Urbana rally and more or less finally put Marion into the winner’s circle.
Mota’s late father, Alfonso, played professional baseball for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 1995, but his favorite sport is football, and you can see the reason. He has a strong arm, quickness, breakaway speed and the ability to run tough as well.
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“I can do better, but it was a good game,” Mota said. “I’ll get a lot better. I’ve got a lot of stuff to fix.”
Mota’s 39-yard TD run capped off a game-opening scoring drive that put Marion up right away. He hit a wide-open Wyatt Cannon with a perfectly thrown 42-yard touchdown bomb midway through the second quarter, adding a two-point pass to Daequan Johnson for a 14-0 Indians edge.
His 64-yard touchdown run a couple minutes later included trucking a CPU defender about 15 yards downfield. A two-point pass to Cannon made it a 22-0 game.
“He’s special, and we knew that when we brought him up,” said Marion Coach Tim Lovell. “He’s just a competitor, and that’s what we love about him. He is going to make mistakes just like everyone does ... But he made some great plays with his arm and his feet today. We’re excited for the future.”
Center Point-Urbana (0-2) came close to pulling off a massive comeback. A 48-yard touchdown pass off a flea flicker from QB Keegan Koppedryer to Joey Metzen right before halftime brought the Stormin’ Pointers within 22-7 at the break.
Sophomore running back Cole Werner’s 1-yard TD splash late in the third made it 22-13, with a Collin Hoskins 2-yard touchdown plunge bringing CPU within 22-20 with 3:41 to go.
Koppedryer threw for 177 yards, with Metzen catching four balls for 142. Werner had 104 yards rushing in his first varsity game on 24 carries.
Marion canceled its first scheduled game last week against Washington (Iowa) because last month’s derecho prevented it from practicing for a week and took out home stadium Thomas Park to boot.
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“This (win) is a big deal. It’s a big deal for a lot of reasons,” Lovell said. “It has been a monkey on our back, in our program, for almost two years. These seniors, that was in the back of their minds. You could see how we pressed at times today. We haven’t really had a full competition since the end of last season because there was no scrimmage, there was no first game. There was a lot of rust we had to clean up, and you could see that.”
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