Kokomo — A cold, rainy, windy night wasn’t ideal for anyone Friday at Walter Cross Field. Players on the sideline huddled together like penguins, traction was treacherous, and Kokomo and Marion combined to fumble a slick football three times on the first five plays, with each team giving the ball away once.
A couple hours later, the Wildkats had no complaints. Kokomo rallied from two first-half deficits to beat Marion 40-22.
Oh, and the conditions? Well, miserable is in the eye of the beholder. After recording their victory and breaking camp for the locker room, several Wildkats eyed the muddy midfield and found it too inviting to resist, doing running belly flops to celebrate victory.
“It was like an ice skating rink out there,” Kokomo coach Brett Colby said. “I don’t know how anybody ran the ball.”
The Kats (6-2, 5-1 North Central Conference) figured out how to do it. They changed their attack some to suit the conditions and rushed for 364 yards. Kokomo got 23 first downs — all on the ground as the Kats didn’t attempt a pass.
Kokomo trailed 14-6 with 1:50 left in the second quarter after Marion’s Javaris Riley scored on his second long TD run. That’s when the Kats turned the game around.
A short kickoff by Marion put the Wildkats on their own 44. Eight plays and two timeouts later, Kokomo’s Bo Baker scored from five yards on one of Kokomo’s swirling power runs to the inside to make the score 14-12 with 0:05 left before halftime.
“I was glad we scored right there at the end of the first half,” Colby said. “That was a big momentum boost for us.”
Marion (4-4, 3-3 NCC) felt the switch.
“It was huge emotionally because we went down and scored to go up 14-6, and only leave them [1:50] on the clock and they went down and scored,” Marion coach Randy Sehy said. “You don’t want to say that was huge, but momentum-wise, to end the first half, that was kind of a downer for our guys.”