TAZEWELL, Va. — Sam put the bam in the Hurricane.
Sam Wagner, running behind and with his massive offensive line, pounded Tazewell for 129 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns to lead Marion to a 27-15 victory Friday.
Shaiquon Sharpe added a 65-yard punt return for another touchdown as the Scarlet Hurricane (4-2) overcame an early Bulldog (1-5) lead in the homecoming contest.
Nick Blankenship put the Bulldogs on the board first with a 54-yard touchdown run in the opening stanza and Malik Davis scored from a yard out in the third quarter.
“I was afraid that Marion would get the power game going,” said THS coach Shane Allen. “Once they started hammering away behind that big line, and Wagner got into a rhythm, we had a hard time getting the ball away from them. They got bits of yardage and kept running the clock away from us.
“Our kids played their behinds off tonight. We stood toe-to-toe with them and just came up a little bit short.”
Carter Rasnick set up the first touchdown for Tazewell when he recovered a Marion bobble on the 35 yard line with just over 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
Blankenship got a handoff from Davis at the 46, crossed midfield, and spun away from a tackler at the 40, before racing down the left sideline for the six pointer with 9:09 on the clock. Rasnick’s PAT put the Dogs ahead 7-0.
Marion cut the lead to five points, 7-2, halting a Tazewell rush inside the endzone at the 2:19 mark of the first stanza. Neither team opened with precision, as the football hit the ground six times in the first 12 minutes.
Hurricane quarterback Trey Crook ignited the MHS go-ahead drive with a 36-yard screen to Wagner and a 27-yard toss to Colin Gullion that set up Wagner’s first touchdown, a six-yard plunge with 8:03 remaining in the half. Gullion’s kick put Marion in front 9-7 and the Scarlet Hurricane never trailed again.
Sharpe had a dazzling punt return with 6:09 left in the second quarter. The speedy junior eluded a pair of would-be Tazewell tacklers, shedding pursuit and racing down the right sideline into the end zone from 65 yards out. Gullion’s kick was wide left and Marion led 15-7.
Davis fired two long passes on the next drive, one to Juwan Jordan for 35 yards and the other to Jesse Mountain that was caught at the 18 before a rougness penalty moved the ball to the 10. Davis then powered his way over for a one-yard score on third down.
However, the try for two points was stopped short, leaving Marion in front 15-13 at the 3:03 mark of the second stanza.
Jordan intercepted a Crook pass just before the half ended. During the halftime ceremony, THS senior Whitney Saunders was crowned 2013 homecoming queen by principal Rodney Reid.
Wagner added a four-yard touchdown with 9:48 to play in the third quarter but the kick was blocked by the Bulldogs and Marion took a 21-13 lead. Sharpe was instrumental in the (short) 24-yard drive with another strong punt return.
Chris Hall recovered a loose ball in the end zone for Tazewell with :54 to go in the third quarter, and it was ruled that the ball had gone out of the end zone and bounced back in, for a safety, making it 21-15.
Wagner scored the game’s final points when he motored four yards for a touchdown at the 4:51 left in the game. Once again, Tazewell blocked the extra point try.
Garrett Jessee and Rasnick were among the key defenders for Tazewell, and Cody Holmes along with Hunter Lefler made good open field defensive plays for the Scarlet Hurricane.
At Bulldog Stadium/Witten Field
Marion.........2 13 6 6 — 27
Tazewell......7 0 8 0 — 15
T – Blankenship, 54 run (Rasnick kick)
M – safety
M – Wagner, 6 run (Gullion kick)
M – Sharpe, 65 punt return (kick failed)
T – Davis, 1 run (run failed)
M – Wagner, 4 run (kick blocked)
T – C. Hall (safety)
M – Wagner, 4 run (kick blocked)