A strong first half propels the Marist War Eagles into the second round of the state AAAA football playoffs and end the Stephens County Indians’ season.
Tied at 7-7 midway through the first quarter, Marist scored 34 straight points on their way to a 41-13 win over the Indians Friday night at Marist in the first round of the state tournament.
Stephens County Head Coach Travis Noland said the loss is a tough way to bring the season to a close.
“I am disappointed for our seniors, disappointed for our community, disappointed for our town in how the season was,” said Noland. “We do not expect to go 5-6, but by the same token, I am very proud of the young men and the effort they put into this. They could have quit the second half, but they did not. We will just put this behind us and move on.”
Marist jumped on top early with a long kickoff return setting up Chase Martenson’s one-yard touchdown run just three minutes into the game.
However, Stephens County tied it at 7 halfway through the first when Tyrik Cunningham scored on a 20-yard touchdown run.
The Indians then had the ball in Marist territory following a fumble, but fumbled the ball themselves.
Marist recovered the fumble and scored on the next play on a 57-yard pass from Martenson to Marcus Miller to take a 14-7 lead.
Martenson then ran for two more touchdowns and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Fletcher Malloy in the second quarter to give the War Eagles a 34-7 halftime lead.
Marist extended its lead to 41-7 late in the third on a 27-yard touchdown run by Matt Perez.
Stephens County ended the scoring with less than five minutes to go when Zeb Noland threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Mighell.
For the game, Martenson led Marist with over 180 total yards running and passing and five total touchdowns.
Cunningham had about 65 yards rushing for Stephens County, while Mighell finished with four catches.
Stephens County’s season ends with a 5-6 overall record.
Marist moves to 9-2 on the year and will play Gilmer in the second round of the playoffs.
The other three Region 8-AAAA teams all advanced to Round Two on Friday night as Monroe Area beat Banneker 68-39, Chestatee defeated Grady 41-13, and Lanier won over Carver of Atlanta 26-7.
Elsewhere in the area, Hart County’s season ended with a 31-21 loss to St. Pius X, Elbert County also saw its season end with a 22-14 loss to Cedar Grove, and Rabun County’s year also ended with a 34-0 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian.
Arby’s Player of the Game: Tyrik Cunningham
Hart EMC Lineman of the Game: Thomas Lowery
Mill Creek Veterinary Clinic Sub of the Game: Zeb Noland
First Baptist Church Spirit Award: Anthony Pasco