KENNESAW -- Marietta may have not played four quarters of complete football, but three quarters was good enough.
Following a rough first quarter, the Blue Devils dominated the remaining three against Harrison on Friday night by scoring five unanswered touchdowns while holding Harrison to just 52 yards before winning 35-12 in a Region 3AAAAAAA game at Bruce Cobleigh Stadium.
With the win, Marietta (5-3, 2-1) will host North Cobb next week with first place on the line. The Warriors are atop the standings after beating Hillgrove 42-0 on Friday.
Marietta fumbled the ball in its own end zone and also had untimely penalties that either killed its possessions or extended Harrison's.
After the second play of the second quarter, it was facing a 12-point deficit.
“It was rough, but it's a part of football,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “You have to overcome the bad things that happen.”
Once Harrison (3-6, 1-2) missed a 51-yard field goal attempt roughly 4 minutes into the second quarter, Marietta turned into a different team.
Tyler Hughes started looking like the quarterback that would finish the game with 262 passing yards and three touchdowns. He had just 7 yards in the first quarter.
Following the Harrison missed field goal, Hughes threw a pair of deep passes, with the second going to Cam Overton for a 47-yard strike that put Marietta on the board.
After the defense stopped Harrison on its next drive, Hughes continued to sling it. After getting sacked for a 16-yard loss by Harrison's Akhnaton Shabazz, Hughes threw a 37-yard pass to Kamryn Perry and a 31-yard pass to Christian Mathis to put the Blue Devils on the 3-yard line.
Melvin Alexander, who finished with 122 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, scored his first TD from 3 yards out to give Marietta its first lead at 14-12.
“You name it, we did it wrong for 12 minutes, and the thing was, (Harrison) only came away with 12 points,” Morgan said. “That's just two touchdowns for us. The next two series, we scored quick and we're up at halftime. We felt, at that point, that we had the game.”
Marietta added to its lead in the third quarter when Hughes connected with Overton for a 10-yarder. The Blue Devils increased their lead to 28-12 on a 6-yard pass to Alexander.
Alexander capped the scoring with a 2-yard run with 57 seconds left to finish an 8-minute drive.
Harrison's biggest highlight came early in the first quarter. The Hoyas took advantage of the safety they scored when Jake Walling threw a 44-yard pass to Brady Kluse for a touchdown on the subsequent drive.
Other than a pair of field goals by AJ Daniels, Harrison could not get things going offensively. It was held to just 15 yards in the second half.