McEachern pulls away from Marietta

After its first two games were in doubt until the final seconds, fifth-ranked McEachern was looking for a little second-half breathing room when it faced Marietta on Friday at the Blue Devils’ Northcutt Stadium.

The Indians got it, eventually, outscoring Marietta 31-3 after the Blue Devils tied the game 21-21 on the fifth play of the second half and went on to a 52-24 victory.

McEachern (2-1) lost its opener 24-21 to No. 3 Peachtree Ridge when a potential game-tying field goal on the final play was nullified by a timeout. Last week, the Indians scored the winning touchdown with three seconds to play in a 23-22 upset of then-No. 2 Lowndes.

Marietta (1-2) opened the second half with a five-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 39-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings.

That’s when McEachern asserted control. The Indians got a 6-yard touchdown run by Chris Davis, a 41-yard field goal by Nicholas St. Germain, a 1-yard touchdown run by Marquis Roberts and touchdown passes from Dondre Purnell and Trent Thompson in the next 18 minutes to put the game away.

Marietta’s only points during that stretch came on a 37-yard field goal by Clay Tolar that cut the lead to 31-24.

Marietta stayed in the game in the first half because of its special teams. A 17-yard punt return by Dorion McMickens set the Blue Devils up at the McEachern 20-yard line, and McMickens scored five plays later on a 3-yard pass from Jennings to cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter. Marietta scored again three minutes later when Johnell Gipson blocked a punt and returned it 20 yards to tie the score 14-14.

It was the second consecutive week in which McEachern was hurt by its punting unit. Against Lowndes last week, 16 of the 22 points allowed by McEachern came at least indirectly from mistakes by its punt team.

The Indians outgained Marietta 244-102 and allowed just 30 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half.