Bagley scored on touchdown runs of 3, 4 and 5 yards in rallying the Hawks (3-0, 1-0) from a 13-7 third-quarter deficit with 5:57 on the clock.
The Blue Devils (2-1, 0-1) were also done in by Hillgrove’s pressure, which coerced Marietta into two interceptions, five sacks and 15 penalties for 120 yards. The sacks, along with six fumbles — all of which were regained, but created lost yardage — resulted in only 19 rushing yards for the Blue Devils.
Marietta’s KirVonte’ Benson ran the ball 14 times for 89 yards and scored in the second quarter off a 39-yard run that tied the score at 7-all with 5:12 remaining in the period.
Brenton Martin passed for 135 yards on a 13-of-28 success rate, but Hillgrove’s defense came up big over the final 4 minutes to halt the Blue Devils’ final chance at tying the game.
Trailing 21-13 with 4:01 left, Marietta drove from its own 20 to Hillgrove’s 39 with less than a minute left, converting a fourth-and-20 from Martin to Jordan Mathis to extend the drive. But three straight incompletions preceded Josh Price’s 10-yard sack as time expired, sealing the Hawks’ victory.
“Our defense was outstanding (Friday),” Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said. “Our running backs played well and I thought both defenses defended the pass well. We throw screens and curls pretty well and Marietta took that away from us.
“I wouldn’t have thought that this would turn into an old-school, smash-mouth kind of game, but it did and we’ll take the win whatever way we can get it.”
Following a scoreless first quarter, Hillgrove got on the board first after forcing Marietta to punt from its own 15-yard line. The Hawks took possession at the Blue Devils’ 45, and Bagley capped an eight-play drive with a 3-yard run for a 7-0 lead.
Justin Denton’s interception in the end zone halted a Marietta scoring opportunity, but the Blue Devils still found a way back into the game with Benson’s 39-yard score.
Elijah Ironside was intercepted on the Hawks’ next possession, setting the Blue Devils up inside the red zone, but Hillgrove’s defense stepped up to allow only a 25-yard Ian Shannon field goal as Marietta led 10-7 with 2:39 in the second quarter.
Benson’s 51-yard kickoff return to start the second half set up Marietta at the Hillgrove 48, and the Blue Devils used eight plays, including a 40-yard third-down pass from Martin to Mathis, to get first-and-goal at the 5. Benson ran twice for 2 yards, and Bradley Chubb collected the first of his three sacks to keep Marietta out of the end zone.
Instead, Shannon converted a 30-yard field goal to give the Blue Devils their last lead at 13-7.
“Holding (Marietta) to that field goal in the third quarter was huge,” Phil Ironside said. “That was big for our defense.”
Marietta elected to punt on its next possession, but a bad snap and fumble led to Hillgrove taking possession on the Blue Devils’ 20.
After a Marietta penalty on third down, the Hawks’ Andrew Gaughn kicked a 24-yard field goal, only for a roughing-the-kicker penalty to be called on Marietta. Ironside elected to take the points off the board and go for a touchdown, and the Hawks cashed in with Bagley’s 4-yard touchdown with 35 seconds left in the third quarter gave Hillgrove a 14-13 margin.
The Hawks scored their final touchdown on Bagley’s 5-yard run with 4:01 left, capping a nine-play drive.
Ironside completed only five passes for 22 yards for Hillgrove, but he did rush eight times for 42 yards. Eric Montgomery had eight carries for 56 yards.
Mathis had seven catches for 96 yards to lead all Blue Devils’ receivers.
“I have to do a better job of preparing my team for pressure, because when there was pressure, we didn’t handle it well,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “I couldn’t ask for more from our defense than what they gave. They held Hillgrove in check for most of the game, and Hillgrove’s defense did the same to us. I don’t think we were outplayed. We got outcoached.”