For the second week in a row, the Marion Wildcats rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit to pick up a win, this time 35-24 over the Harrisburg Bulldogs.
Marion trailed 18-7 at halftime, but scored 28 second-half points including 20 in the fourth quarter to come away with the win. The Wildcats are now 2-1 while Harrisburg falls to 1-2.
"It is a really special trait to be able to bounce back like that," said Marion coach Kerry Martin. "Two nights back to back is a dang rare thing. That's not something teams do every week."
But Martin said this week's game was a lot different than last week's win over Mattoon.
"Last week we were clicking offensively and we made a comeback," Martin said. "This week we weren't clicking and we made a comeback. I can't put my finger on it but I think we're real close to being a real good football team. We're also real close to being a really average football team."
Friday, the Wildcats overcame five interceptions by quarterback Brant Hill, three coming in the first half that led to two Harrisburg touchdowns. The Bulldogs built their lead on touchdown runs of 39-yards by Jarren Goldman and 4 yards by Corbin Crim.
Goldman's score came two plays after Noah Vallette picked off a Hill pass.
Leading 12-7, the Bulldogs got one more score on the last play of the first half on a 2-yard pass from Sykes Thompson to Kyle Heavner. That score was set up by an interception by Cooper Thompson that was returned to the Wildcats two yard line.
Harrisburg's offense was boosted by Goldman's 161 first-half rushing yards But Goldman suffered a broken arm on the late second-quarter scoring drive and did not return.
"That really hurt us," said Harrisburg coach Jason Roper. "He was running the ball really well and we had to put some kids in there that didn't have many reps. But no excuses. Marion played a great game. They finished really well. In the second half they made some adjustments and they outplayed us."
Marion scored the first two touchdowns in the second half on a 3-yard run by Jared Dorris and a 37-yard run by Hill to take a 22-18 lead with 11:51 left in the game. But Corbin Crim ran the ensuing kickoff back 90 yards for a score and Harrisburg was back on top.
That was all the Harrisburg scoring. After the teams traded punts, Hill hooked up with Chase Hughart for a 48-yard scoring strike to put Marion on top 28-24. Hill got his second rushing touchdown with 1:07 left from 9 yards out to ice the game.
Hill finished the night running for 140 yards and passing for 167. But his five interceptions were a concern for Martin.
Page 2 of 2 - "He's a playmaker and he makes plays," Martin said. "And he's a bit of a gunslinger, sometimes to a fault. I think once he learns to channel that, he can be a really special player."
Along with Hill, Mitchell Bartle added 74 yards and a touchdown. Harrisburg got 47 rushing yards from Daniel Lewis and 37 from Zach Perkins in the loss.