McCONNELSVILLE - Name everything that is exciting about football, and Marietta's 41-35 comeback win over Morgan Friday had it.
There were long touchdowns, big hits, turnovers, and drama. Emphasis on the drama.
After a 15 yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Hayden Matheny to Clinton Campbell, the Raiders took a 35-20 lead with 11:53 left in the fourth quarter.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta quarterback Anthony Kimbrough sets to throw against host Morgan during season opening football action in McConnelsville Friday night. MHS rallied in the second half to win 41-35.
The Tigers kept their composure, and answered right back with a 19 yard touchdown run by Quinton Coffield. The Tigers failed on a two-point conversion, making the score 35-26. After forcing a three and out, the Tigers blocked a punt and got the ball at the Morgan 29. One play later, quarterback Anthony Kimbrough hit Coffield on a 29 yard catch and run TD up the right sideline. The Kyle Bronski PAT made it 35-33.
Morgan was able to move the ball a little on its next possession, but on 3rd and 13, defensive lineman Eddie Kimbrough sniffed out a Kaleb Driggs carry for a five yard loss. The Tigers started their next possession at their own 44. After a Grant Krigbaum sack put the ball 40, Kimbrough again hit Coffield on a long pass, this time a 46-yarder, to give Marietta the ball at the 14. On 3rd and 8 from the 12, Kimbrough threw a pass high to the left corner of the end zone, and wideout Chance Wright was able to out leap the defender and score the deciding touchdown with 2:43 to go in the final quarter. Kimbrough hit Coffield on the two-point conversion to put Marietta up 41-35.
The game started out back and forth. Starting quarterback Kyle Earich gave the Raiders the early lead with a 63 yard touchdown run. Earich faked the handoff to 240 pound runningback Justin Head and was given a clear lane up the right sideline. Riley Newton hit the PAT to make the score 7-0.
Marietta 41, Morgan 35
1st 2nd 3rd 4th- Final
MAR- 7 7 6 21 41
MOR-21 7 0 7 35
MOR- Earich 63 yard TD run (7:58 1st) (Newton kick)
MAR- Davis 7 yard TD run (6:14 1st) (Bronski kick)
MOR- Earich 5 yard TD pass to A. Campbell (2:34 1st) (Newton kick)
MOR- Earich 29 yard TD run (0.34 1st) (Newton kick)
MAR- Kimbrough 16 yard TD run (7:32 2nd) (Bronski kick)
MOR- Earich 72 yard TD run (7:13 2nd) (Newton kick)
MAR- Davis 4 yard TD run (2:34 3rd) (PAT failed)
MOR- Matheny 15 yard TD pass to C. Campbell (11:53 4th) (Newton kick)
MAR- Coffield 19 yard TD run (10:24 4th) (2 pt. Conversion failed)
MAR- Kimbrough 29 yard TD pass to Coffield (8:40 4th) (Bronski kick)
MAR- Kimbrough 12 yard TD pass to Wright (2:43 4th) (2 pt. Conversion good, Kimbrough pass to Coffield)
The Tigers responded with a seven yard touchdown run by Garrett Davis. Bronski hit the PAT. The drive was set up by a Morgan pass interference and 27 yard pass from Kimbrough to Wright.
The Raiders had a 4th and inches play on the next drive, and Head busted up the middle for a 63 yard gain. He was finally brought down by Kimbrough at the five. On third and goal, Earich hit Austin Campbell for a five yard touchdown pass. Newton's PAT made it 14-7.
Kimbrough was picked off on the next Tiger possession by Campbell, and after a 22 yard pass from Earich to Driggs gave the Raiders the ball at the 34, the Head fake again allowed Earich to break free for a long touchdown, this time a 29-yarder.
After both teams traded tournovers on downs, Kimbrough recovered from the interception and scored from 19 yards out cut the deficit to 21-7.
Earich completed his monstrous half with another big run, this time from 72 yards out, to give the Raiders a 28-14 lead into the half. The Tigers had some adjustments to make.
"We told them that first half was self-inflicted," said head coach Adam Eichorn, who earned his first win as Marietta head coach. "We had countless dropped passes, missed assignments on defense. Not to take anything away from Morgan, they're a good football team. I told our guys there was a chance to set the stage for the season. We failed in the first half, but in the second half, they took the challenge. I'm really proud of them."
"We all had our heads down," Coffield said. "(Eichorn) came in and got us pumped up, and we came together as a team."
Both teams were a little sloppy out of the break. After Austin Campbell got his second interception of the game off Kimbrough, the Raiders gave it right back with a fumble on a botched option attempt that Will Cogswell jumped on at the Morgan 14 yard line. Davis would later score from four yards out. After a failed PAT attempt, the score was 28-20 in favor of the Raiders.
With Earich out of the game due to an injury, Matheny came on and completed his first pass to Driggs for 50 yards.
After two carries from Head netted 19 yards, Matheny hit Clinton Campbell on a 15 yard scoring strike. Newton hit the PAT to give the Raiders their largest lead. From there, the Tigers would put together their comeback.
"We gave them too many chances," said Morgan head coach Nate Smith. "We had a couple turnovers in a row. They got on a roll and got some momentum."
Smith also noted that the injury to Earich was a big blow. Earich completed 4-8 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown, and had 172 yards and three scores on the ground. His counterpart Kimbrough was 14-32 passing on the night for 237 yards and two scores, along with two picks.
"In the beginning they were blitzing their middle linebackers a lot, so it was hard to stay in the pocket," Kimbrough said.
"After that we started picking it up, got a groove going and we kept it."
In a backup role, Matheny was 4-7 for 90 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, Kimbrough led the Tigers with 46 yard and a score. Coffield contributed 30 yards and a score, while Davis had 14 yards and a score.
To go along with Earich's production, Head had 122 yards on the ground and was a nuisance to the Tiger defense all night.
"He's a strong boy," Kimbrough said. "We're taught to fly to the ball, so once one guy is there, we're all there."
The comeback victory puts the Tigers at 1-0 as they head into Barlow next week to take on Warren.
Morgan will look to get in the win column against Union Local next Friday.