MARIETTA -- Playing its first post-Thanksgiving game at Northcutt Stadium since 1996, Marietta gave quite a performance.
The Blue Devils were dominant on both sides of the ball, romping Mill Creek 42-10 on Friday night in the Class AAAAAAA state quarterfinals.
The win put Marietta (11-2) in the semifinals for the first time since 1994 under Dexter Wood, when it lost to Colquitt County in the final four. The Blue Devils have not reached the finals since their championship season of 1967.
“This team is very focused and dialed in to what we wanted to accomplish,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “We weren’t satisfied with just being here. We wanted to go further, and we were able to do that (Friday). First time in 25 years. We’re excited.”
Kimani Vidal had 237 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries in the first half alone, finishing with 263 for the game.
Prior to the fourth-quarter running clock, Marietta had held Mill Creek (10-3) to just 73 yards -- with only 7 coming in the air -- and forced six punts.
With Vidal having a big night on the ground, Harrison Bailey only threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Arik Gilbert had 93 yards on eight catches, Ricky White added 53 yards on five catches and Taji Johnson had two catches for 17, both of them touchdowns.
The second play of the game was a Vidal 49-yard run. That set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bailey to Johnson.
Mill Creek’s biggest offensive play of the game came two drives later when Chancellor Lee Parker broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown, and Ra'Shun Bass managed to save a touchdown by chasing him down.
The Blue Devils got out of the drive with only a field goal and went on to hold the Hawks to just 13 yards for the remainder of the first half.
Marietta’s ensuing drive chewed off 6 minutes of clock and ended with a 4-yard sweep by Vidal early in the second quarter. Vidal burst up the middle for a 64-yard touchdown to extend the lead and scored again from 94 yards out to give Marietta a 25-point lead at the half.
“My line really went to work and created some really big holes for me to go through,” Vidal said. “Our receivers were blocking down field, and that’s how I was able to get those long runs.”
In the third quarter, Marietta held Mill Creek to just six plays while scoring twice more to put the game out of reach. Bailey dumped a short pass to White for a 9-yard touchdown, and he hit Johnson again for a 10-yard score with just 4 seconds remaining in the third.
“All of our offense and defense, we came together as a team,” cornerback Rashad Torrence said. “Practice was electric. We had high energy the whole week and did what we needed to do.”