LSU-bound quarterback Anthony Jennings lived up to the preseason hype in Marietta’s season-opening game against Newnan on Friday, but it was Newnan’s Bailey Bryant who stole the show.
Bryant, a sophomore making his first varsity start, completed 16 of 19 passes for 181 yards and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Cougars rallied for a 38-29 victory at the Blue Devils’ Northcutt Stadium.
“We were able to do some things that worked against them and I’m just proud of my kids,” Newnan coach Mike McDonald said.
Newnan led for most of the first half but trailed 22-17 entering the fourth quarter. Bryant then connected with Traon Moss for touchdown passes of 19 and 35 yards over the next three minutes to give Newnan the lead for good at 32-29.
Jennings quickly answered Bryant’s first touchdown pass with a 25-yard TD to Wake Forest commitment Tyree Harris, briefly giving Marietta a 29-25 lead, but Newnan scored again less than a minute later after taking possession on the Marietta 40 when two penalties forced the Blue Devils to kick off from their 12-yard line.
Jennings rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns, completed 15 of 23 passes for 191 yards and a score and added a 21-yard touchdown reception on a halfback pass from Jordan Mathis. But he also lost a fumble deep in Marietta territory in the fourth quarter that led to the Cougars’ final score.
Marietta outgained Newnan 219-82 in the first two quarters but did not have the lead until Jennings’ second touchdown run just before halftime. His 2-yard run and a subsequent two-point conversion run by Mathis put the Blue Devils ahead 22-14 with 16 seconds to play in the half.
Newnan closed to within 22-17 on a 33-yard field goal by Tyler Mulvenna with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter. Marietta ran just seven plays in the quarter, a drive that ended on an interception by Newnan’s Tonaris Portress.
Newnan’s star player, Trey Matthews, made an impact as well. The 6-foot-1 defensive back, who has committed to Georgia, partially blocked Marietta’s first punt, giving the Cougars the ball at the Marietta 39. Seven plays later, he gave Newnan a 7-0 lead with a 3-yard run on a play set up by a pass interference penalty on the Blue Devils. Matthews had two receptions for 26 yards on the drive. He finished the night with seven receptions for 82 yards, two rushing touchdowns and a two-point conversion run.
Newnan – 7-7-3-21 – 38
Marietta – 7-15-0-7 – 29
N – Trey Matthews 3 run (Tyler Mulvenna kick)
M – Anthony Jennings 2 run (Ian Shannon kick)
N – Quinton Dix 15 run (Mulvenna kick)
M – Jordan Mathis 21 pass to Jennings (Shannon kick)
M – Jennings 25 run (Mathis run)
N – Mulvenna 33 field goal
N – Bailey Bryant 19 pass to Traon Moss (Matthews run)
M – Jennings 25 pass to Tyree Harris (Shannon kick)
N – Bryant 35 pass to Moss (Mulvenna kick)
N – Matthews 4 run (kick failed)