Warhorses fall to Marion despite strong second half

A strong and determined second half effort by the Devine Warhorses was not quite enough to make up the deficit they faced going into the halftime break. Marion scored five touchdowns in the opening 24 minutes of the game to build a comfortable 35-7 lead going into intermission. Two of those five touchdowns were from 70+ yards with another coming on a 53-yard interception return. Those big plays for Marion certainly determined the outcome of this ballgame.
The Warhorses battled back in the second half outscoring the Bulldogs 20 to 7 in the final 24 minutes of the game. According to Head Coach Paul Gomez, “with a team as talented as Marion, we couldn’t afford to give them any breaks if we were to win the ballgame. Even though the one interception that they got was returned for a long touchdown, we did not maintain possession long enough to string a good drive together that would have kept their offense off of the field.”
The first quarter started simply enough. Devine drove the ball to the Marion 10 but was not able to convert a 4th and short opportunity. Although the Warhorses did not produce any points on that drive, they did move the ball downfield. Marion’s only score came on a Taylor Mills to Jackson Allen pass with 1:50 left in the first quarter that gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Devine quickly answered with a 40-yard strike from Connor Schmidt to Grant Collins early in the 2nd quarter to knot the score at seven apiece. Following that lone first half Warhorse touchdown, the game began to unravel for the hometown team. On the ensuing kickoff, Bulldog deep returner Jacob Berry scored the first of his four touchdowns with a 78 yard return to push the Marion lead to 14-7.
After a quick 3-and-out by the Warhorse offense, Berry hit the jackpot with a 75 yard run from scrimmage, increasing their lead to 21 to 7 with 9:17 still to go in the second quarter. Marion’s next drive took them to the Warhorse 1 yard line with 2:51 remaining in the half. Kage Armstrong punched it in to boost their lead to 28-7.
Berry’s third and final touchdown of the half came as the Warhorses were trying to make up a little ground with only 5 seconds left. As Schmidt threw a bullet to the sideline, Berry used his speed and athleticism to burst in front of the Warhorse receiver to take the ball 53 yards in the opposite direction, giving Marion a more than comfortable 35-7 halftime lead.
“I told the kids at halftime that I knew they were not going to lay down and quit,” stated Gomez after the game. “Our team has too much heart for that to happen. We went out determined to win small battles in the second half trying to not only get back into the game, but trying to get better with every snap.”
In true Devine fashion, the Warhorses did not quit or lay down and accept defeat; they kept fighting. Warhorse running back Luke Torres produced Devine’s first rushing score of the season on a 5 yard run with 8:47 left in the 3rd quarter that cut the lead to 35-13. Marion answered quickly on a Berry 7-yard run. That score was the last on the night for the Bulldogs and it increased their lead to 42-13, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Although a victory would have been extremely difficult to achieve, Devine’s doggedness continued to show. Grant Collins rushed for a 2-yard touchdown with 7:58 remaining in the game, then Chase DuBose reeled in a 25-yard catch from Schmidt to narrow the gap. DuBose’s touchdown with 35 seconds left produced the game’s final score, 42 to 27.
Key play
Devine received the opening kickoff and their first drive had the chance to provide the Warhorses some needed momentum to begin the game. Devine moved the ball to the Marion 10 yard line before having to snap the ball on a 4th and short. After a Marion timeout, Warhorse running back Grant Collins took the toss from Schmidt and cut up field. From my view in the press box, Collins got enough yardage to move the down marker that would have kept the drive alive. Instead, the line judge ruled it two chain-links short giving Marion the ball and the keys to open their first scoring drive of the game.
“Ifs” do not mean a thing and with Marion scoring 35 points in the first half, it is hard to say whether the Warhorses not getting the conversion on that opening drive’s 4th down play played a part in their let down the rest of the first half. Momentum swings swiftly. Had the football been spotted where at least this Warhorse observer believed it should have been the 4th down conversion and a possible opening touchdown producing drive would have been a big momentum boost in the Warhorse’s favor.
Devine’s second half surge made the final statistics not look so lopsided. For the game, the Warhorses produced 357 total yards to Marion’s 440. Schmidt was 9 of 19 passing for 153 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception. DuBose (2 for 46, 1TD), Kyler Brown (4 for 41), Collins (1 for 40, 1 TD), Noah Brogdon (1 for 26), and Torres (1 for 1) comprised the receptions, yards, and touchdowns through the air.
Collins led the team in rushing with 15 carries for 152 yards and 1 touchdown. His 10.1 yards per carry signals life for the Warhorse rushing game. Torres (2 for 25, 1TD), Matthew Ornelas (2 for 10), Brogdon (3 for 9), Schmidt (4 for 8), and Bulldog Ramirez (1 for 0) rounded out the carries and yards on the ground.
The Warhorse secondary continues to impress at times defending the passing game. Two additional interceptions now has Devine at six on the season for an average of two per contest. Matthew Ornelas and Noah Brogdon each contributed an interception to snuff out potential touchdown-producing drives by the Marion offense. Payton Anderson with two and Kyler Brown, Juan Sic, Ornelas, and Brogdon with one interception each is a bright spot for the Warhorse defense.
They said it…
“Last Friday, we lost but we made it a good game by putting up a fight. We made sure that Marion knew they would have to battle our defense, our offense, and all the way down to our special teams to get the win. We had a lot of guys step up in the second half and that makes us ecstatic for next week’s game. We want the fans to come support us against Central Catholic!”—OL/DL—Gideon Ramirez
“We did really well as a team. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the win. I’m proud of every single one of my brothers.”—OL/DL—Marques Burford-Zawahreh
“We didn’t come out and play like we had hoped to in the first half which was very disappointing. When we came out in the second half, I knew that we could either fall to pieces or fight with everything we had. When we got the big stop defensively on the goal line I knew that we were going in the right direction. We did many good things this game and I can’t wait to get back onto the field this Friday.”—QB Connor Schmidt
“Despite the score at the end of the game, we fought our hearts out. My brothers on that field did not accept defeat. I’m extremely proud of the heart and fight we had in us. We will continue working hard and improving one day at a time.”—RB/OLB—Bulldog Ramirez
“We are improving offensively each week. The players are in the right positions and their learning curve is growing which is evident in their improvement. Noah Brogdon moved to Z-receiver and had a very good game. Kyler Brown and Chase Dubose also did some good things. We will keep learning and improving; we will get where we need to by the time we need to be there.”—Wide receivers coach Scott Taylor
“We executed much better in the second half and therefore the offense ran more smoothly. We were able to sustain some drives and make some positive things happen.”—Offensive coordinator PJ Wells
May have missed it
One of the most powerful and convincing sights I’ve ever seen regarding team unity in any sport occurred Friday night before kickoff as the Warhorse football players stood alongside each other on their sideline as the National Anthem was being played by our high school band. With each player having their right hand on their heart, their left hand was placed firmly on the right shoulder pad of their teammate standing in front of them as they all proudly stood facing the United States flag that is located in the north end zone.
Without a doubt as this team’s togetherness remains strong, the player’s confidence in each other and in their coaching staff continues to give those that support these young men even more hope that things will soon turn the Warhorse’s way.
Senior spotlight
Michael Miles—TE/DE—As a team, we came together and made a leadership system so that more players can step up to a leadership role. My goal is to work hard, not just for myself but mainly for my team, because when you’re practicing and going all out, it makes everyone become better. Playing with my peers has always made me push myself to become a better player. I try to be the hardest worker on the field.
My goal to keep the team together is to step up to be a leader and to push everyone to do the best that they can on Friday nights. On the field, I play to work hard to help put my team in the best position to win and to get that gold ball.
Noah Brogdon—RB/FS—The season has not started how I would have liked, however, that does not take away from the fact that this is my last year. It has been our team goal and my personal goal to be District Champs. That means that we have to go to every practice and give 100%.
Coach Quiz affected me in a positive way, especially after my ACL injury last season. He was constantly by side, trying to get me back to full health. Thanks to him, I am finally back on the field leading the team to a potential District Championship.
Christian Arredondo—OL/DL—Coach Gomez and Coach Rotramel have both pushed me to work even harder to get better. I am grateful they trust me at the starting center spot and that they trust me to fill in at other positions when necessary. I also have a great coaching staff that has taught me many life lessons that I can use as I grow into an adult.
Being able to play Warhorse football is the best thing that has happened to me. I have so many friends that I can call ‘brothers-for-life’. I love Warhorse football, the community, and the family that I have gotten from being a part of it.
Next up
The Warhorses travel to San Antonio to take on the Central Catholic Buttons Friday night at Bob Benson ‘66’ Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer