Coach Scott Burton said earlier this week that Martin was a talented player who just needed a few repetitions under to center to get himself ready.
“I had some jitters early that I had to get out,” the junior said. “Once I settled in in the second quarter and found a groove, I played better.”
That’s a bit of an understatement.
Martin completed 14 of 19 passes for 249 yards and five touchdowns and led Marietta to a 52-21 win over Newnan in Friday’s season opener at Drake Stadium.
Martin threw touchdown passes of 21, 20, 17, 75 and 13 yards to three different receivers. Marcus Bennett totaled five catches for 107 yards and two scores, Jordan Mathis had five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns and Marlon Gober caught one pass for a 13-yard score.
Gober’s touchdown came with 1:35 left in the third quarter and gave the Blue Devils (1-0) a 45-14 lead.
Marietta led 17-7 at halftime, and outscored Newnan (0-1) 28-14 in the third quarter, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions of the period.
The Blue Devils overcame a sluggish first half that saw them commit 12 penalties for 110 yards, but they still held a 10-point lead. A Kadeem Wallington fumble recovery set up a 45-yard field goal for Ian Shannon, and a blocked punt by Raymond Lester that was recovered by Korbin Miller set up Marietta’s second touchdown, giving the Blue Devils a 17-0 lead with 56 seconds left until halftime.
Marietta finished with 18 penalties for 155 yards, yet it still managed to post the third-most points in an opener in its long history. It was the most since a 61-point opening game against South Cobb in 1990. The Blue Devils totaled 77 in their opener in 1928.
“I told the kids before the game that they’re great kids with character, and they work hard,” Burton said. “What I didn’t know was how they’d fight. Certainly, with the penalties, they could have folded the tent and got frustrated, but they kept fighting.”
Two of Martin’s touchdown passes came after he scrambled out of the pocket and found receivers downfield.
“My offensive line really helped me keep my cool,” he said. “They kept talking to me to help calm me down because I was nervous. It was my first varsity start.
“I’m really excited about this win. We played well when we got going and found our groove.”
Chris Flood recovered a third-quarter fumble to set up Mathis for a 7-yard touchdown catch that put Marietta in front 23-7.
Newnan’s Chrishawn Dix answered with an 80-yard catch from Bailey Bryant to trim the deficit to 23-14, but Bennett’s 75-yard reception less than 2 minutes later gave Marietta a 31-14 lead.
Tyrell Tomlin, who had 10 carries for 66 yards, scored on 10-yard run, and Nakia Berniard had a 2-yard touchdown with 1:17 remaining in the game for the Blue Devils’ final score.
KirVonte Benson rushed 17 times for 149 yards, including two second-half 41-yard scampers that led to touchdowns. He also had two catches for 58 yards.
Bryant had nine completions for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead Newnan. Randell Arnold had three catches for 80 yards and a score, while Dix finished with two receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Immanual Grigs caught two passes for 26 yards and a score.
J.K. Britt rushed 14 times for 81 yards.