Prep Football

Late drive lifts West Delaware past Marion, 25-21

Prep football: Nick Casey's TD run with 2:30 left puts the Hawks in front for good

MARION — It was adrenaline, not concussion, that blurred Nick Casey’s memory.

“I don’t remember much about it,” Casey said, when asked about West Delaware’s fateful drive.

Let’s trigger his recollection.

Fifteen plays, 71 yards. Clutch.

That march, then a final stand, allowed Class 3A fifth-ranked West Delaware to rally past Marion, 25-21, in a non-district football game Friday night at Thomas Park Field.

“It feels really good,” said Casey, the Hawks’ quarterback. “After last year’s loss here, we had this one circled. It’s a big one.”

Caleb Kehrli rushed for 237 yards on 41 carries, and Casey had a hand in all four of West Delaware’s touchdowns — three running, one passing — as the Hawks improved to 2-0.

Casey’s 2-yard run with 2:30 remaining put the Hawks in front for good.

Marion (1-1) drove to the Hawks’ 15-yard line on its final possession before Trevor Paulsen ran out of magic, throwing four straight incompletions. Paulsen was 27 of 52 for 316 yards.

Casey appeared to have iced the game earlier with an interception, but the Hawks were called for pass interference, then unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Indians new life at the West Delaware 25.

“We had a little sideline incident there, but one thing we always talk about is having the mentality to move on to the next play,” Hawks Coach Doug Winkowitsch said.

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Paulsen passed for 238 yards in the first half as Marion took a 21-12 lead into intermission, then the Hawks’ defense stiffened and played shutout ball the rest of the way.

Casey’s 19-yard touchdown run made it 21-18 early in the third quarter, then the Hawks began their game-winning drive with 7:55 to go and the ball at their own 29.

They moved the ball methodically, picking up five first downs and no plays longer than 14 yards. On third-and-11 at the Marion 32, Casey slipped after taking the snap, righted himself and connected with Gavin Soppe to move the chains.

Paulsen connected with Mitch McAllister for TD passes of 27 and 25 yards and Lucas Unsen for a 10-yard score in the first half. He was intercepted on the play that preceded the Hawks’ winning drive.

“That’s on me,” Marion Coach Tim Lovell said. “I told the receiver to make an adjustment, but didn’t tell my quarterback. That’s my fault.

“But this was a great game. I loved this environment. West Delaware is a good, physical team and they’ll go far. I think we matched their intensity tonight, and I hope we can keep that mentality all season.”

West Delaware is at Mount Vernon next week; Marion is at Solon.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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