DAVENPORT — In just two short seasons, Marion has resurrected a program that was searching for a single victory to a team that has contended for two postseason berths and even positioned itself for a district title.
The Indians faced a win-and-in scenario against Davenport Assumption. A loss and they were all but out of the playoff hunt. Even though a postseason berth eluded them once again, it doesn’t come close to overshadowing the distance they have traveled under second-year head coach Tim Lovell.
“We talk about the purpose being bigger than the outcome,” Lovell said. “The young men we had the privilege of coaching showed a lot of heart all year. Tonight was not in our favor, but there isn’t another group of men I’d rather be around and that goes for coaches, as well.”
Davenport Assumption scored the first 21 points and punched its ticket to the postseason, defeating Marion, 49-21, Thursday night at Brady Street Stadium. Assumption secured a top-two finish in Class 3A District 4, extending its playoff streak to 11 consecutive seasons.
“We got punched in the mouth really quick,” Lovell said. “We did something we didn’t do much of all year. We turned the ball over and they capitalized on it. We couldn’t get out of our own way.”
Jayce Levy scorched Marion for 415 total yards, including 253 on the ground, and four touchdowns. He had his hands on each of the first four TDs, putting the Knights up, 28-7, with 2:56 left before halftime. He scored on TD runs of 9, 6 and 18 yards before the break.
“My coaches told me I had to play well and execute the whole game,” Levy said. “We had to play hard to the finish.”
The Knights (7-2, 6-1) converted Marion turnovers into 14 first-half points.
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Levy’s first score came on the heels of a Marion fumble that the Knights defense pounced on at the Indians’ 12. Two plays later he slipped in from nine yards out with 5:50 left in the opening quarter.
Marion appeared to be driving and completed a first-down pass when the ball popped out and Assumption recovered for a short field with six seconds left before the first break. Levy finished an eight-play, 48-yard drive with an 11-yard strike to Jon Bassier to make it 21-0.
The Indians took advantage of a couple miscues as well.
Marion’s Trevor Paulsen launched a long pass into double coverage from deep in Marion territory. The Knight defenders converged and tipped the ball in the air near midfield. Marion wideout Alex Whalen reeled in the ball and raced for an 86-yard score.
Marion also turned a fumble into a touchdown with 1:09 left in the second quarter. Paulsen hit Mohwinkle for a 20-yard TD. Paulsen finished with 256 passing yards and two scores.
Marion had to rely on the passing game after falling in the big hole early and had to all but abandon the run game. The Indians only netted 18 yards on 18 rushes.
“It was just a frustrating night for us,” Lovell said. “When you get down three scores, it changes your game plan and how you want to do things. We had to scramble a little bit.
“I thought we settled down a little bit right before half. The third quarter we got stagnated a little bit and then they got on us in the fourth and we couldn’t get back in touch.”
Mohwinkle returned a third-quarter kick back for a score, which made it 35-21 after to the successful two-point conversion.
Assumption answered with a 37-yard TD run from Levy and the last of two TD runs from Ryan Wohlers.
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“Every time we’d have a big play they’d get the ball and take it to us again,” Paulsen said. “They fought all night. They didn’t let up and made it tough to keep going with them.”
Marion finished 6-3 and 5-2 in the district. The Indians had their back against the wall and continued to battle, which resembled their play, rebounding from a district loss to Dubuque Wahlert, that place them in position to win the district,
“They kept fighting until the end,” Lovell said. “You can’t prepare for the loss or how you’re going to feel. You can prepare for how you react and how you respond.
“The things we did this year were great. They should not be forgotten.”
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