Down by two touchdowns with half the second quarter left, McEachern was staring down the season’s first potential loss.
But the Indians’ offense responded with five consecutive touchdown drives, led by Rajaan Bennett’s 219 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, to finally put away rival Marietta 42-28.
The Blue Devils’ defense was able to stop McEachern three times in the first half, the first time blocking the Indians’ field goal and returning it for a touchdown that gave Marietta a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
It was 21-7 when McEachern started a drive at its own 11-yard line with 6:03 left in the first half, a quick stop meaning Marietta could get good field position to make it a three-score game.
That was when everything began to click for the Indians (6-0, 5-0 in Region 5-AAAAA), who marched 89 yards in 13 plays, eating 5:19 off the clock and finishing with a touchdown to make it 21-14 at the half.
Bennett led the way with 59 yards on nine carries on the drive. It was the first of five consecutive touchdowns for the McEachern offense that couldn’t be stopped once it hit its stride.
“We couldn’t really prepare for them [Marietta]; they kept coming out in different types of defenses,” Bennett said. “But right before halftime, coach [Kyle Hockman] finally made the adjustments. Then, we just started gashing them. It was like clockwork.”
The Blue Devils (2-4, 1-4) had no answer for the McEachern run until the fourth quarter, when Marietta finally got back in the end zone to cut the deficit to 35-28 with 11:14 left. The score was set up by a 66-yard strike from Adam Patrick to Tristan McQuay, and Greg Franklin scored from 3 yards out two plays later.
Once again, though, the Indians had a response. On the ensuing drive, they put together a 12-play, 60-yard drive that took 4:57 and made it a two-score game once again.
“We said, ‘Hey, let’s grind this out a little bit; let’s get three or four first downs, score and put the nail in the coffin,” Hockman said. “Nobody flinches. Nobody panicked. The players kept believing.”