The Blue Devils built a significant lead by scoring 35 first-half points — 25 of off the Mustangs’ blunders — and held on to win 49-31 Friday night in a Region 4AAAAAA game at Northcutt Stadium.
After losing their first two region games, the Blue Devils (4-2, 2-2) have now broken even going into next week’s game at Campbell. They’re fifth in the region, trailing Harrison and Hillgrove, which are tied for third with 3-1 records.
“Every week is a grind,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “Coach (Andy) Scott’s got those guys playing hard, and with the different (offensive) schemes they run, we knew it would be a battle.”
The Blue Devils managed to get separation late in the first quarter, when Chris Flood recovered a Mustang fumble, and KirVonte’ Benson ran it in from 15 yards out on the next play. Later, they blocked a punt before Lawton Ward got the loose ball and ran it back 26 yards for a touchdown.
That gave Marietta an 18-3 lead by the end of the first quarter, and it was all the cushion the Blue Devils needed.
After the teams exchanged touchdowns in the second quarter, Marietta continued to take advantage of more Kennesaw Mountain errors.
Jeron Holsey recovered another fumble, and the Blue Devils cashed in on a 23-yard touchdown run by Benson. Then, an interception by Tyrell Tomlin led to a 48-yard field goal by Ian
“You can’t spot a good team like Marietta,” Scott said. “We had too many turnovers but fought until the bitter end. That’s a good football team, and I was proud of the way we fought.”
Kennesaw Mountain (1-5, 0-5) outgained Marietta in yardage, finishing with 442 to Marietta’s 283, but most of the Mustangs’ yards came when they scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Bryan Bell scored a touchdown from 3 yards out, and Dennis Bell had one from 4 yards out with 43 seconds. Marietta then capped the scoring on Benson’s 85-yard kickoff return.
“Field position was big,” Burton said. “We were able to capitalize and put it into the end zone, and our defense played well. The punt block for a touchdown was huge.”
Benson ended up with 132 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 13 carries.
Kennesaw Mountain quarterback Nigel Hayes had a big night, completing 10 of 16 passes for 237 yards. One of his biggest throws was a 40-yard pass to Dennis Bell in the fourth quarter, which put the Mustangs on the Marietta 3 and set up Bryan Bell’s touchdown run.
Jamari Carter led the Mustangs with 120 yards on 19 carries, and Dennis Bell finished with five catches for 146 yards.