Sam Letton had eight catches for 120 yards, and his final catch of the night late in the fourth quarter proved to be the most important. That 29-yard reception set up running back K.K. Brooks for an insurance touchdown that helped loosen a tight game, and the Raiders went on to win 36-28 in a non-region game Friday at Northcutt Stadium.
The Raiders (2-0) only led by two points when Letton made the 29-yard catch. On third-and-6, he got open running down the left sideline, and quarterback Josh White made the throw. Letton had just enough time to make the grab and keep both feet in bounds before his forward motion forced him out of bounds.
“I had faith in my quarterback to get the ball to me, and I had faith that I could catch it,” Letton said. “It was a huge momentum-changer for us. I think it was a key component in that game and why we won that game.”
Brooks, who had 153 yards on 25 carries, followed Letton’s catch with a 9-yard run up the middle to put Walton on Marietta’s 16-yard line, and he scored the next play on a sweep to the left.
Walton’s defense stepped up on Marietta’s ensuing drive and limited the Blue Devils (0-2) to just 2 yards before they had to punt. But Marietta made a bad snap on the punt, allowing Walton to recover the ball it on the Blue Devils’ 1-yard line.
Brooks scored his third and final touchdown on the next play.
The Raiders were up 16 with 3 minutes left to go, but they had yet to seal the game. Marietta took advantage of a soft Walton coverage and used 90 seconds to march down the field, finishing the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Brenton Martin to KirVonte’ Benson.
Once Marietta used its timeouts, Walton needed a first down to seal the game, getting it when Brooks broke through for a 28-yard scamper with just over a minute remaining.
While the Raiders have started the season with a pair of wins under first-year coach Mo Dixon, Dixon said they are far from where they want to be this season.
“We are who we are. We’re a work in progress,” said Dixon, who must now prepare for his first taste of Walton’s fiercest rival, Lassiter. “We’re just coming along. Josh is getting better, and the offensive line is jelling. Right now, we’re in a fight and we’re swinging, but we’re punching ourselves in the face a lot. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Walton got on the board first during the final seconds of the first quarter, on a quarterback sneak by White, but Marietta responded early in the second quarter, with a 51-yard field goal by Ian Shannon. The Blue Devils then took a 10-8 lead when Benson returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown.
The Raiders got the lead back for good when White hit Letton for a 25-yard score, and they extended it after Taquar Stewart recovered a Marietta fumble and returned it to the Blue Devils’ 1. Brooks scored on the next play.
Early in the second half, Walton lost a fumble while attempting a fake punt, and the Blue Devils scored five plays later on a 6-yard strike from Martin to Marlon Gober, to put Marietta within two.
“There were some bright spots, but you can’t turn the ball over as much as we did (Friday) and expect a different result,” said Marietta coach Scott Burton, whose team travels to Newnan next week. “I think we gave them two possessions on the 1-yard line, and that’s tough to come back from.”