SHARPSBURG -- East Coweta outscored Marietta 21-7 in the second half, fending off the Blue Devils for a 37-28 victory to advance to the second round of the Class AAAAAAA playoffs on Friday.

Trailing by nine and with less than 4 minutes remaining in the game, the Blue Devils final drive fell short at the Indians’ 25-yard line when Tyler Hughes’ last pass sailed out of bounds.

“We left a lot of mistakes and points on the field in the first half and it came back to get us in the end,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said.

Marietta cut East Coweta’s lead to 30-28 with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Tyler Hughes found Zuri Johnson for a 26-yard touchdown. The Indians quickly re-established their nine point advantage when Willie Rice returned the ensuing kickoff to Marietta’s 2 yard line. Jayden Bolton punched in his third touchdown of the evening on the next play, giving the Indians their final margin.

Trailing 21-9 with less than 2 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Indians gained momentum going into halftime with a four-play scoring drive that was capped by a 20-yard touchdown run from Jayden Bolton.

After forcing Marietta to punt on the first drive of the third quarter, the Indians offense powered down the field for a 13-play 67-yard drive scoring drive to take 23-21 lead.

On East Coweta’s ensuing drive, its offense flexed its muscles again by running the ball nine straight times culminating in a 1-yard scoring run from Bolton to push the lead to 30-21 early in the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t make the plays, we had opportunities and we didn’t make them,” Morgan said.

As the Indians offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, Bolton and sophomore Trey Bowles powered the Indians ground game. The duo combined for 262 yards rushing and all five of East Coweta’s touchdowns.

“They’re 300 pounds across the front and we’re 225,” Morgan said. “We needed to make more plays in the first half to so that they couldn’t do that in the second half. The result was they were able to stay in their offense.”

Marietta’s offense found its groove in the second quarter as they built their 21-9 lead. Hughes connected on a pair of 34-yard touchdown passes to Christian Mathis and Zuri Johnson.

Hughes finished the game 20 of 37 passing for 344 yards and four touchdowns. The junior quarterback spread the ball primarily between Daniel Martin, Christian Mathis and Zuri Johnson, who combined for 299 yards receiving.

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