Granite City snapped a 10-game losing skid with a 25-13 comeback win over Marion
GRANITE CITY — After going winless in 2012, the Granite City Warriors were determined not to finish with another 0-9 record this fall. “We were on a 10-game losing streak and I was tired of losing,” Granite City senior offensive lineman Cory Odom said. “I just wanted to win.” The Warriors’ 2013 season got off to a flying start on Friday, coming from behind to beat the Marion Wildcats 25-13 in the season opener for both teams. With the win, Granite City snapped that 10-game losing streak which dated back to Oct. 29, 2011, when they fell to East St. Louis in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. The Warriors also beat Marion for the second time in three years and for the third time in series history. Marion has a 6-3 record over Granite City since the two teams first met in 2005 at Granite City. “They played like they wanted it more than we did,” Marion coach Kerry Martin said. “The running back was a handful. The sophomore quarterback did a nice job leading his team. I thought it was a gutsy effort. I thought their head coach (Carl Luehmann) did a great job getting his team ready.” Sophomore Willie Beckwith rushed for 157 yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns and senior Quinetin Jackson rushed for 170 yards on seven carries with a touchdown for the Warriors. Granite City finished with 387 yards total, 322 of them were on the ground. “When you look at a lot of great football teams, they’ll tell you the first two tenants of success are running the ball and stop the run,” Martin said. “I don’t care if you’re a spread team or whatever. You have to be able to run the football and stop the run and you have to win the turnover battle. I don’t think we did any of those tonight.” Now, the Wildcats are preparing for their home game against Mattoon next Friday. “We just have to go back to the drawing board,” Martin said. “I like for us to go back to fundamentals. We practice on fundamentals more with this varsity than any bunch we had because we have a lot of new faces and we try to keep the play package simple and small and just execute. We’ll keep our chins up and we’ll go back to work. I think there’s a lot of season left. There are a lot of games on the schedule we can win and there are a lot of games on our schedule that we can lose depending on how much improvement we showed.” Senior Jordan Bradford finished with 126 yards on six receptions for Marion. “He’s a fine football player,” Martin said. “He had to play both ways. I know it was pretty tough on him. But we didn’t play well from the beginning.” The Wildcats trailed 12-0 before getting a 59-yard touchdown run from sophomore Izak Baker with 1:57 left in the second quarter that cut Granite City’s lead to 12-6. “We didn’t have any rhythm early,” Martin said. “We had trouble getting the first down and we had trouble establishing an offensive drive. We kind of lost our mojo. Offense is rhythm and we never got any rhythm in the first half until Izak made a play.” Marion took a 13-12 lead after senior Brant Hall threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior Jared Dorris and senior Logan Null kicked the extra point with 7:35 left in the third quarter. But the Wildcats’ lead was short lived. Beckwith scored a two-yard touchdown run with 1:04 left in the third to give the Warriors an 18-13 lead. The touchdown ended a 13-play, 80 yard drive and Marion had a pair of face mask penalties. With six minutes left in the game, Jackson intercepted a pass by Hill at the Warriors’ six-yard line. Three plays later, Jackson scored a 90-yard touchdown run to boost the Warriors’ lead to 25-13.