DEWITT, Iowa - It may not have been the way they wanted, but the Marion Indians can still boast a district championship.
DeWitt Central (6-3, 5-1) scored the final 10 points to drop seventh-ranked Marion (7-2, 5-1), 17-16, in a Class 3A District showdown Friday night at DeWitt Central High School's Birney Field. With the close loss and Solon's win over Benton Community, the Indians claim their first district title since 2009.
The district title is a significant accomplishment through the weekend, but next week the focus is set on the postseason.
"I think it does (mean something) because it's another feather in your cap," Marion Coach Tony Perkins said in a pregame interview. "You always want that district title first and then go into the playoffs and prove what you've got.
"Big picture-wise, no, you want the big prize at the end of the season. If you had to trade which one you wanted you'd want a state championship."
Miscues hurt Marion, leading to two scores, including what proved to be the game-winning 22-yard field goal by Sabers freshman kicker Keegan Lass, who also had two extra-points.
The Indians seemed to have the game in hand when Andrew Davis scored on a 14-yard TD with 47 seconds left in the third for 16-7 lead.
Central's Jacob Feldpausch bolted more than 80 yards with the ensuing kickoff return to score, closing the deficit to 16-14.
Marion fumbled the following kickoff and the Sabers pounced on it at the Marion 36 with 21 seconds still in the third. Nine plays later Lass gave the Sabers a lead for good with 8:29 to play.
A bigger loss for Marion was Davis being carted off the field on a stretcher after the field goal. He finished the game with 89 total yards, including 77 rushing, and two TDs.
The Indians opened the game, fumbling on their first snap, which led to Central quarterback Mitch Green running for a 13-yard TD on the next play. The Sabers were up, 7-0.
Green powered the Sabers with 71 rushing yards, while Chris Keitel had 69 yards on the ground. Green also threw for 103 yards, including a 32-yard strike to Austin Lechtenberg to convert a 4th and 8 from the Sabers 48 with 2:55 remaining and burning more time off the clock.
Forcing turnovers helped Marion build a 9-6 lead with 1.1 seconds left before halftime.
Trev Biery picked off an errant Green pass and returned it to the Sabers' 20-yard line. Three plays later, Davis score on a 3-yard run, pulling Marion within 7-6 after the conversion run failed. The Sabers defensive stand on the conversion attempt and stuffing the run proved to be the difference in the final score,
Late in the second, Isaac Frazier pounced on a Green fumble at the Marion 32. The Indians drove to the Sabers' 4, powered by quarterback Trevor Hardman for first-down completions to Davis and Quinn Cannoy, who used two nifty moves on defenders to reach the Central 10. It set up Dalton Ott's 21-yard field goal, giving Marion its first lead.
Hardman threw for 124 yards, hitting Cannoy four times for 92 yards. Biery added 49 yards on the ground for the Indians.