Allatoona coach Gary Varner called his team’s offense a work in progress, but it was apparent from the Buccaneers’ performance Friday night against Creekview that they’re at least moving in the right direction.
Two weeks after being held to 157 total yards in a season-opening 14-13 loss to Cartersville, Allatoona got 384 yards and rode a 24-point second quarter to a 37-7 victory over the visiting Grizzlies in the teams’ Region 6-AAAAAA opener.
Quarterback Dante Marshall ran for one touchdown and passed for another, Jude Kelley kicked field goals of 25, 50 and 46 yards, and Alex Wilson ran for 113 yards on 17 carries for eighth-ranked Allatoona (1-1, 1-0). Marshall was 6-for-11 passing for 153 yards, and the Buccaneers finished with 231 yards rushing on 44 carries. Das Asante had 124 receiving yards on three catches.
“We’ve got a bunch of running backs that haven’t played on Friday, and we’re just trying to get a rhythm. In our offense, getting a rhythm at that place sets everything else up. That opens up the passing, and Dante did a great job of hitting his guys. So if the running game works, then all of a sudden things work for us.”
Sixth-ranked Creekview (2-1, 0-1), which won its first region championship and reached the state quarterfinals for the first time last season, had its 16-game winning streak in regular-season games come to an end. The Grizzlies had 280 yards of total offense, but 247 of those came on six plays of 25 yards or more.
“It’s half empty and half full. On most plays the defense played great, but the big plays will turn a game around,” Varner said. “So we’ve got to go back and look at if it was a lack of ability or was it a blown assignment. We’ve got to fix that.”
Creekview quarterback Brady Rhodes had 91 yards rushing on six carries and passed for 146, but he was facing constant pressure and completed just 13 of 37 attempts. Ethan Dirrim had six receptions for 61 yards.
Trailing 27-0 at halftime, Creekview scored its only points on the first possession of the second half. The Grizzlies recovered a pooch kickoff at the Allatoona 36 and scored three plays later on a 4-yard pass from Rhodes to Dirrim.
Allatoona scored on five of its six first-half possessions. The first drive was typical Allatoona, using 13 plays (11 on the ground) to move to the Creekview 8, where Kelley kicked a 25-yard field goal with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The other scores came more quickly. Kelley kicked a 50-yard field goal in the first minute of the second quarter, and the Buccaneers recovered the ensuing pooch kickoff at the Creekview 31. Jay Ellison scored on a 20-yard run three plays later for a 13-0 lead with 10:05 to play in the half.
Marshall threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Asante midway through the second quarter, then had a 1-yard touchdown run late in the half that was set up by a 41-yard pass to Asante.
Creekview had long plays on each of its first three possessions that moved the ball into scoring position - a 50-yard pass from Rhodes to Dirrim on the first play from scrimmage, a 66-yard run by Rhodes on the Grizzlies’ second drive, and a 38-yard pass from Dirrim to Chase Wright midway through the second quarter - but the Grizzlies were unable to take advantage.
Creekview was hurt by a lost fumble, an interception and two punts of less than 20 yards in the first two quarters.
Creekview - 0-0-7-0 - 7
Allatoona - 3-24-3-7 - 37
A - Jude Kelley 25 field goal, 2:00
A - Kelley 50 field goal, 11:07
A - Jay Ellison 20 run (Kelley kick), 10:05
A - Das Asante 48 pass from Dante Marshall (Kelley kick), 5:14
A - Marshall 1 run (Kelley kick), 0:41
C - Ethan Dirrim 4 pass from Brody Rhodes (Dylan Stevens kick), 11:31
A - Kelley 46 field goal, 2:08
A - Dequori Garrett 1 run (Alex Stanford kick), 7:23