MOUNT VERNON — It was a safe assumption that Marion's football team would come out with laser focus after having its win streak snapped last week at Cahokia.
It just so happened that the Mount Vernon Rams were the next team on the schedule.
Marion rolled up five touchdowns and scored a safety in the first half alone to blast Mount Vernon, 44-7, Friday night in their South Seven Conference matchup at Ken Hunt Stadium.
"We had a good week of practice," said Marion coach Kerry Martin. "Sometimes that happens after a loss. It was good to see the guys bounce back and really focus this week. You always try to say about a loss that you hope it makes you better and you get something out of it. I think our guys did."
The Wildcats are now 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the South Seven as the Rams remained winless through five weeks.
After forcing the first of Mount Vernon's six first-half punts, the Wildcats marched down the field quickly. Quarterback Evan Noelle completed a pair of passes to Jake Bruce and runs by Lukas Shrum and Mason Gooch led to a 5-yard touchdown by Shrum and the first of Chase Banks' six successful PAT kicks.
Marion also scored with a touchdown run from Deavon Margrum and an 18-yard strike from Noelle to Gooch before the Wildcat defense contributed two points with a safety.
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That came when Michael Gunn got underneath Mount Vernon quarterback Payton McMillen in the end zone and Mason Norris finished with a hit up top to make it 23-0 with 10:03 left in the second quarter.
"The defense played really well," Martin said. "They played fast and tackled really well. When you play someone who might be kind of an underdog to you, the last thing you want is to let them stay close early. Our defense really did a great job of holding them and letting the offense get on the field and put some points on the board."
Marion added to the lead with a touchdown by Cole Bundren and Shrum got loose with some nifty moves for a 34-yard score to push the margin to 37-0 at halftime.
Shrum finished with seven carries for 96 yards, while Noelle completed 12-of-16 passes for 156 yards to seven different receivers.
Venson Newsom didn't catch a touchdown pass in the rout, but returned the second-half kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to ensure there would be a running clock the entire second half.
"There wasn't any phase last Friday that looked like the Wildcats," Martin said. "I thought tonight we got back to who we are. Evan made some nice throws and had some good runs. It was a good balanced performance. It was a good night."
Mount Vernon's points came on an 8-yard run by Fischer Davis in the fourth quarter.
Marion returns home to face Belleville's Althoff Catholic next Friday. It will be the annual Pink Out game for the Wildcats.