McEachern 34, Marietta 14

The McEachern Indians are one step closer to a Region 3-AAAAAAA title after defeating the Marietta Blue Devils 34-14 on Friday at Walter H. Cantrell Stadium.

The Indians (7-2, 3-0) can clinch their third consecutive region title and sixth since coach Kyle Hockman arrived in 2008 with a win at Hillgrove next week. The Blue Devils fall to 6-3, 2-2.

Paris Brown led all rushers with 181 yards on 26 carries for the Indians to go with a touchdown, Ali Scott crossed the end zone twice and the Indians scored three non-offensive touchdowns to bury the Blue Devils for the win.

“That’s really cool because it involves the whole squad,” said Hockman about the different ways the Indians scored. “Offensive guys, defensive guys — some guys who were just special teams only. It was a team win.”

Scott’s 9-yard touchdown reception and Brown’s 8-yard scoring run aided the Indians to a 14-7 halftime lead. Scott returned the second-half opening kickoff 92 yards for a score to knock the wind from the Blue Devils’ sails and their final two scores came from Justin Robertson’s blocked punt recovery in the end zone and Nassier Currie-Sudler’s 40-yard pick six that brought the score to its final margin.

The Blue Devils were able to hang around, trailing 27-14 for most of the fourth and with chances to potentially score, but threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter and fumbled, never challenging the Indians’ lead.

The Indians began the season 0-2 with losses to No. 4 Grayson and No. 10 Mill Creek but haven't lost since. They've beaten Marietta — a rival eight miles down the road — for the 10th consecutive time dating back to 2008.

Indians quarterback Malik Evans rushed for 44 yards and was 5-for-18 passing with a touchdown and interception.

The Blue Devils were led by Ramel Keyton, who finished 124 yards on six catches, including touchdown receptions of 34 and 12 yards.

If the Blue Devils can beat North Paulding and McEachern wins next week, they’ll earn a No. 2 seed and will host a playoff game for the first time since 2011. They’ll qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2013 — the last time they had a winning season. Coach Richard Morgan has turned the program around in his second year at Marietta after coming from Oscar Smith (Virginia), where he won state titles in 2008 and 2011.

The Indians will now turn to Hawks of Hillgrove, who own a 3-1 region record after beating North Cobb on Friday. They’re the Indians’ cross-city rival located just three miles down the road. McEachern won 27-23 last year.

“It will be a big, big challenge,” Hockman said.

Marietta 0 7 7 0 - 14

McEachern 7 7 13 7 - 34

MC - Ali Scott 9 pass from Malik Evans (Roben Rodriquez kick)

MC - Paris Brown 8 run (Rodriquez kick)

MA - Ramel Keyton 34 pass from Rashan Bass (Cooper Kipp kick)

MC - Scott 92-yard kickoff return (Rodriquez kick)

MA - Keyton 12 pass from Bass (Kipp kick)

MC - Justin Robertson 0 punt block recovery (kick failed)

MC - Nasier Currie-Sudler 40 INT return (Rodriquez kick)

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Credit: Seth Ellerbee

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Credit: Seth Ellerbee