A turnover extravaganza between the Marion Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0) and the Cole Cougars (3-2, 1-1) did not impede Marion from walking away with the 30-6 win on Friday night.
The 15-3A matchup saw the Bulldogs guilty of seven turnovers, four interceptions and three fumbles. The Cougars committed just two fumbles, but were unable to profit from any of the Bulldog flubs.
“There are a lot of things we need to get corrected, turnovers are one of them,” head coach Ryne Miller said after the game.
On Marion’s first series, the Bulldogs ran a fake double-reverse flea flicker. Senior QB Zach Goodwin hit fellow senior receiver Cade Baumann on a fly route for a 50-yarder down to the Cougars 14-yard-line. The momentum was short lived, as the Bulldog’s first fumble of the game gave Cole the ball on its own 10-yard-line.
The Cougars had problems moving the sticks and were forced to punt with the punter standing on the goal line. The snap sailed over the punters head landing outside the back of the end zone resulting in a safety for Marion. Less than three minutes in, the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead.
“The defense played lights out tonight,” Miller said. “They had a safety, a touchdown and forced two fumbles. Coach Tesch and his staff put together a great game plan.”
The ensuing Bulldog possession gave them excellent field position on the visitor’s side of the 50. Unfortunately Marion failed to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs on the opponent’s 24-yard-line.
A punt after the Cougars unsuccessful drive pinned Marion inside their own 15. Two plays later a fumble by senior running back Ray Rayos was recovered by Cole.
This time it was the Cougars turn for a turnover. Senior defensive back Hutch Rabenaldt was able to scoop up the pigskin, returning it to the 34.
A 60-yard pass to Rabenaldt from Goodwin went for a touchdown two plays later. Hutch showed great concentration on the play, as a Cougar defensive back was able to get a hand on the pass and the Bulldogs led 9-0.
The second quarter was more productive. Senior Jacob Devora returned a Cougar punt 34 yards, giving Marion great field position inside the 30-yard-line. Four plays later, Goodwin scampered 19 yards to pay dirt. The PAT by kicker Juan Ortiz was good and Marion was up 16-0.
The next two bulldog possessions ended in interceptions, bookending a three-and-out by the Cougars.
Cole took over at midfield hoping to put points on the board before the break.
The Bulldog “D” once again came up huge. Junior Jayden Williams and junior Samuel Montoya met at the quarterback resulting in a sack and forcing a fourth-and 16. Cole was unable to convert, turning the ball over on downs.
The Cougars 10-play drive to start the third quarter ended with a five-yard touchdown toss. The two-point conversion to pull within eight was squashed by the Marion defense.
With three minutes left in a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldogs benefited from a defensive pass interference call in the end zone. After a 31-yard scamper by senior running back Ray Rayos placed the ball at the 11-yard-line and on the first play of the final stanza, Jayden Williams was able to go untouched for the touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 23-6.
On the ensuing Cougar possession, a block in the back penalty on the return team backed them up to the seven-yard-line to start the drive. Two plays later, the Williams, Montoya duo sacked the quarterback in the end zone and the ball popped loose. The fumble was recovered by senior defensive lineman Corbin Flores for the defensive touchdown, and Marion was up, 30-6.
Back-to-back interceptions, one by Goodwin and the other by backup QB Tanner Beakley were both returned inside the Bulldog red zone.
Both times the “steel curtain defense” denied the visitors any points. The multiple sacks by the defense late in the fourth quarter helped seal the win for the Bulldogs.
Miller was complimentary of Goodwin’s ability to bounce back after throwing three interceptions in the game.
“Zach is playing a heck of a season so far — but kind of had a slump tonight,” the coach said. “The way he recovers and regroups after a mistake — he’s special for that.”
Most of the Cougars yards on the night came from interception returns. The Cougar offense managed only 74 yards of offense, with just eight yards passing and 66 rushing.
Marion amassed 381 yards of offense, 203 passing and 178 rushing. Rayos accounted for 124 yards on 15 carries (8.3 yards per carry).
Goodwin completed 12-24 pass attempts for 203 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Devora led the corp of receivers with six catches for 65 yards and one touchdown. Hutch Rabenaldt added two catches for 68 yards and one touchdown.
The Bulldogs have a huge matchup next week on Friday night, traveling to Jourdanton for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Jourdanton beat Karnes City Friday night 55-7. Jourdanton comes into the game undefeated at 5-0 and 1-0 in the district.