The Blue Devils nearly shut out Pope en route to earning a 27-7 victory in non-region action at the Pope Multi-Sport Complex.
Marietta (1-1) scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and led 27-0 at halftime.
After throwing an incompletion on his first pass attempt, Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Jennings completed his next 18 tosses and finished the game 19-for-23 for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 23 yards and two scores.
“I like to challenge the kids and give them something to focus on and hopefully they’ll respond,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “These guys impressed me (Friday). They started fast and kept building on that, and the defense played very well on the other side. I’m very proud of the guys because they responded.”
Tyree Harris was on the receiving end of Jennings’ touchdown passes. He caught a 22-yard reception to complete a 10-play, 60-yard drive that put Marietta in front 20-0 with 10:27 left in the second quarter, and he was also on the back end of a 19-yard toss for a 27-0 Blue Devils advantage with 3:04 remaining in the second.
Harris ended the game with four receptions for 60 yards and two scores.
“I think we played well,” he said. “The offensive line practiced really hard this week, and they gave Anthony some good chances to look downfield. The team has a word each week and this week it was ‘attitude.’ The coaches really pushed us in practice and it paid off. It was a whole team effort. We were together, offensively and defensively.”
Marietta started the game with a 10-yard penalty and Jennings’ initial incompletion, but after those two miscues, the Blue Devils’ offense just couldn’t be stopped.
Jennings completed three straight passes, and a 58-yard run from Kervonte Benson set up Marietta at the 2. One play later, Jennings punched in for a 3-yard touchdown, but the 2-point conversion failed and left the Blue Devils with a 6-0 lead.
Pope’s first possession stalled in its half of the field following a sack from Jan Robles and an incompletion from Greyhounds quarterback Stephen Skruck.
After receiving the punt, Jennings completed a 40-yard reception to Chavez Hemphill that set up first-and-goal from the 8. Jennings scored from 3 yards out one play later to end a nine-play, 83-yard drive that put Marietta in front 13-0 with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
A quick four-and-out from Pope (0-1) resulted in Jennings’ 22-yard touchdown pass to Harris.
Skruck competed his first pass with 10:20 left in the second quarter. It started a promising 11-play drive to the Marietta 33-yard line, but a fumble recovered by Amanuel Gantt gave the ball back to the Blue Devils, who ran a no-huddle offense that led to Harris’ 19-yard touchdown.
Jennings’ string of 18 straight completions ended with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Pope finally got on the board with 5:20 left in the game after Skruck ran in for a 3-yard touchdown. Ronald Woods, who carried the ball 10 times for 44 yards, gave up great second effort on fourth-and-4 at the 9-yard line to pick up the second down and extend the drive.
Skruck, who was 12-for-23 for 133 yards, also completed a 28-yard pass to Logan Carr on third-and-7 to keep the chains moving.
Carr finished with five catches for 57 yards, and running back Brooks Climmons had 14 rushes for 80 yards.
Benson totaled three carries for 80 yards for Marietta, and Jordan Mathis had six receptions for 50 yards.
“Watching us drive down the field late in the game and complete some tough third-down plays was definitely something to build on,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “(Anthony Jennings) is one heck of a football player, and coach Burton and his staff do an excellent job over there.
“We got ‘outathleted’ (Friday). We needed some breaks and didn’t get them, but I’m proud of our kids.”