Marietta and Centennial entered the Class AAAAA football playoffs with less-than-stellar 5-5 records, but both teams proved over the course of the regular season that they knew how to win when they had to.
However, it was Marietta that came up with the big effort with the teams’ seasons on the line. Quarterback Anthony Jennings threw four touchdown passes, rushed for two scores and finished with 361 yards of total offense to lead the Blue Devils past Centennial 48-27 on Friday at Northcutt Stadium.
The victory puts Marietta in the second round next week against top-ranked Camden County, which eliminated North Cobb on Friday. Marietta had not won a playoff game since beating Woodstock 19-3 in the 2005 first round. The Blue Devils went 2-8 and did not make the playoffs last season.
Marietta opened the season with four consecutive losses to teams that made the Class AAAAA playoffs, but the Blue Devils rebounded to go 5-1 in Region 5-AAAAA and finish in second place. Centennial went 1-3 against a tough non-region schedule but was 4-2 in 6-AAAAA to claim the No. 3 seed.
Jennings threw touchdown passes of 62 and 42 yards to Chavez Hemphill in the second quarter to complete a 28-7 surge that put the Blue Devils in control after falling behind 6-0 early. Marietta took a 28-19 lead into halftime and pulled away in the second half.
Jennings scored on a 42-yard run less than a minute after Centennial’s first touchdown, and Jordan Mathis ran in the two-point conversion to give Marietta the lead for good at 8-6. Ro’Mello Porter’s 9-yard run on the first play of the second quarter increased the lead to 15-6.
After Centennial cut it to 15-13 on a 46-yard pass from Jimmy Meyer to Christian Robinson, Jennings hooked up with Hemphill twice for a 28-13 lead. Centennial responded with a quick 10-play, 83-yard drive, capped by Meyer’s quarterback sneak for a touchdown with seven seconds to play in the half, closing the gap to 28-19. Cyril Teal’s 40-yard run on the first play of the drive was the key to getting the Knights into scoring position.
Meyer finished with three 1-yard touchdown runs and the TD pass to Robinson.
Jennings was 13-for-21 passing for 282 yards, and he rushed for 79 yards on 13 carries. Porter had 109 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Centennial – 6-13-0-8 – 27
Marietta – 8-20-6-14 – 48
C – Jimmy Meyer 1 run (kick blocked)
M – Anthony Jennings 37 run (Jordan Mathis run)
M – Ro’Mello Porter 9 run (Lawton Ward kick)
C – Meyer 46 pass to Christian Robinson (Connor Davis kick)
M – Jennings 62 pass to Chavez Hemphill (Ward kick)
M – Jennings 42 pass to Hemphill (kick failed)
C – Meyer 1 run (kick failed)
M – Jennings 1 run (run failed)
M – Jennings 18 pass to Tyree Harris (Ward kick)
M – Jennings 34 pass to Marcus Bennett (Ward kick)
C – Meyer 1 run (Cyril Teal run)