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Marion grounds out win over Searcy

by CHUCK LIVINGSTON SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | October 9, 2021 at 2:57 a.m.

MARION -- Marion rushed for more than 300 yards and peppered Searcy with big scoring plays Friday night for a 37-25 victory in 6A-East Conference play at Premier Bank Stadium.

Marion senior Cam Anderson rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns, including an 84-yard score in the third quarter.

"I thought our offensive line dominated the game," Marion Coach Lance Clark said. "I thought they set a tone early on and it forced Searcy into quite a few adjustments."

The Patriots (3-3, 2-1) scored on the second play from scrimmage when Ben Gerrard hit Donnie Cheers on a screen pass and eluded several tacklers for a 57-yard touchdown.

Searcy (4-2, 2-1) responded by penetrating the Marion red zone on its ensuing drive before the Patriot defense forced the Lions to settle for Tim Ulsperger's 28-yard field goal.

Gerrard lofted a pass to a streaking Cheers for a 61-yard TD pass with 10:58 remaining in the second quarter for a 14-3 Marion lead.

Searcy quarterback Ckyler Tengler found Reid Miles for a 40-yard TD toss with 4:52 left in the second quarter to get the Lions within 14-10.

Marion responded with a 10-play, 72-yard drive that Anderson cashed in with a 4-yard run at the 2:22 mark of the second quarter. The Patriots forced a Searcy turnover on downs inside their own 30-yard line to carry a 21-10 lead to halftime.

After Marion forced a punt on Searcy's opening drive of the second half, Anderson displayed great quickness and balance as he streaked down the sideline for the 84-yard run for a 28-10 Marion advantage.

Searcy drew within 28-17 following tailback Dede Johnson's 18-yard TD jaunt and Marion faced a third-and-2 when Gerrard pulled on the read option and ran 61 yards for a score and a 35-17 Marion lead.

The Lions got within 35-25 when Tengler scored from 2 yards out on a QB Sneak with 6:21 left. Searcy forced a Marion punt and drove into Patriot territory before a Dewayne Davis interception ended the final Lion threat. Searcy's final drive ended when Johnny Nichols and Tyron Smith forced intentional grounding in the end zone for a Marion safety.

"We had some games that we liked with the defensive line," Clark said. "They threw some screens early on that hurt us. The sacks in the second half were all coverage sacks. Our defensive backs played great and we kept getting a push."

Print Headline: Marion grinds out win over Searcy

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