Marietta’s KirVonte Benson rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter alone as the Blue Devils improved to 6-2 and 5-1 in Region 4AAAAAA with a 43-13 win Friday.
The victory moves the Blue Devils into solo second place in the region, and gives them the inside track toward hosting a first round playoff game.
“He’s a workhorse,” Marietta quarterback Anthony Jennings said of Benson. “We give him the ball and expect to get a lot of yards from that. We wanted to pound the ball in the second half to win this game.”
Benson, who finished the night with 168 yards on only 12 carries, showed his patience as the feature tailback, waiting for blocks before bursting for big gains. On consecutive possessions, he ran for 19 yards and a touchdown to take advantage of a short field. The next time he touched the ball, he ran up the middle and quieted the South Cobb crowd with a 75-yard touchdown that put the game out of reach.
“He’s a green athlete. He doesn’t have a lot of experience and is relatively new to the game,” Blue Devils coach Scott Burton said. “But he’s a very smart kid. We put a lot on him because even though he’s inexperienced, he can handle it mentally.”
Trailing 22-8 midway through the third quarter, South Cobb coach Ed Koester didn’t have to think twice about going for it on fourth down, despite the fact the ball was on the Eagles’ 28-yard line.
“We had to go,” said Koester, whose team dropped to 6-2, 4-2. “The only way to make something happen was by making something happen.”
Marietta linebacker Lawton Ward captured South Cobb’s Chauncey Ingram in the backfield for the turnover on downs.
“I know coach Koester very well and I certainly understand why he did what he did,” Burton said. “I think I probably would have done the same thing.
“It felt like momentum was slipping away and he tried to find a way to capture it back again.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Ward made another big play when he intercepted Eagles’ quarterback Stephon Masha and returned it for Marietta’s final touchdown to give the Blue Devils a 43-7 lead.
“We certainly did not expect to come in and win so convincingly,” Burton said. “We knew how dangerous and potent they were with their series of comeback wins.
“It was important for us to keep the hammer (on them) and that’s what I was most proud about.”
We showed up a little shaky and gave them a few opportunities, but the defense never wavered.”
The opportunities came in the first half, where Masha and Ingram seemed to take two steps forward before a referee sent them back.
“Every time we had something happen for us in the first half to keep ourselves in the game, we shot ourselves in the foot with a big penalty,” Koester said. “We just couldn’t get on track.”
The track for Marietta to starting the playoffs at home continues next week when they host North Cobb.
“We could have been out of the playoff race if we lost this game,” said Jennings, who’s committed to LSU. “It’s an amazing win for our team.”