MARION, Iowa It didn't work on first down. No matter, there's always second down.
Senior quarterback Nick Hardman threw a 75-yard bomb to receiver Quinn Cannoy with 1:37 left in the game to give Marion a thrilling 29-27 victory over Western Dubuque in a 3A first-round playoff game last night at Thomas Park.
Marion (8-2) plays DeWitt Central Monday at Thomas Park. Western Dubuque finished 4-6.
One play before the game-winner, Hardman attempted the same pass, a bomb down the right sideline that fell incomplete at the Western Dubuque 40.
"It was a hard fought victory," Marion Coach Tony Perkins said. "We made some mental mistakes, but it's awful nice in the playoffs to get some luck and finish it off."
Mental mistakes indeed. Two Western Dubuque first-quarter drives were extended by Marion penalties. Each drive resulted in touchdowns, highlighted by a 59-yard sideline sprint by tailback Dan Beard.
Down 14-6 in the second quarter, Marion seized momentum when Cannoy returned an interception to the Western Dubuque 33. Two plays later, Hardman hit tailback Tyler Gundarson for a 26-yard TD to pull Marion to within 14-13 late in the half.
A seesaw fourth quarter had four lead changes. After a 1-yard touchdown dive by Marion tailback Trev Biery with 6:42 left that gave the Indians a 23-20 lead, Western Dubuque's Riley Pfieler returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to the Marion 40. A 25-yard bootleg by quarterback Dylan Kramer set up a 23-yard touchdown run up the middle by tailback Dawson Nemmers to give the Hawks a 27-23 lead.
On its next possession, Marion appeared to let the game slip away when Hardman was intercepted at his own 47 by linebacker Blake Kass. But the defense forced a three-and-out, and two plays later, Hardman and Cannoy connected for the winning touchdown.
"My quarterback Trevor Hardman just trusted me to go up and make a play," Cannoy said.