Elliott kick return sparks Marietta to 46-0 triumph over Morgan

McCONNELSVILLE – The “Jason Schob era” of Marietta football couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start as Schob’s Tigers dominated Morgan in every phase of a 46-0 season-opening victory Friday at The Athletic Field.

Marietta didn’t take its first offensive snap until late in the first quarter but already held an 8-0 lead at that point thanks to a safety and Aaron Elliot’s ensuing 61-yard kick return for a touchdown just a minute-and-a-half into the contest.

That early cushion helped set the tone as the Tigers carried that momentum throughout the remainder of the contest, scoring 10 more points in the second quarter and 14 apiece in the third and fourth quarters.

“That was huge for setting the tone,” Schob said. “It was very good to start the game that way.”

Marietta’s recipe for success centered around its running game and its defense. The Tigers pounded away for 281 yards on 39 carries and also had four of its touchdowns come via the ground.

“We try to come in with the mentality that we’re gonna be able to run the ball no matter who we’re playing,” Schob said. “Be physical up front and use misdirection to run the ball. We’re very fortunate to have some good backs.”

Defensively, Marietta forced three Morgan turnovers, two safeties and held the Raiders to 96 total yards of offense.

Bernard Johnson paced the Tigers with 117 yards on 10 carries in the contest. Garrett Davis added 59 yards and two touchdowns on 10 rushes. Quarterback John Henry was 4-for-8 passing for 61 yards and touchdown.

The game’s 46-point margin could have been even larger but Marietta negated several big plays with penalties. All told, the Tigers were penalized 13 times for 115 yards.

“I was a little disappointed, we had a lot of plays called back because of penalties,” Schob lamented. “That’s definitely something we’re gonna address this week in practice.”

Michael Apperson led Morgan with 35 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Brayden Hoskinson threw for 66 yards on 3-for-11 passing.

The Raiders got the ball first in the game but quickly got backed up in their own territory following a holding call. Facing a 3rd-and-25, the shotgun snap sailed over Hoskinson’s head and into the endzone where Hoskinson fell on it for a safety.

The ensuing safety kick was fielded by Elliot at the Marietta 41 yard line. He sprinted towards midfield before cutting to the left sideline and finding daylight, taking it all the way to the house for a 61 yard touchdown. Justin Hammons’ kick was wide left to make the score 8-0.

The Raiders put themselves in good position to answer on their next series as they drove all the way to Marietta’s 11 before Trent Dawson picked off Hoskinson’s pass down near the goal line.

Morgan lined up to punt early in the possession but faked it and Hoskinson’s 28 yard pass to Dylan Johnson gave the Raiders a new set of downs. Hoskinson also had a 30 yard pass to Clifford Holmes on the drive, but on a 3rd-and-6 from the 11 yard line, Hoskinson threw a fade to Brendan Vincent up the left sideline that Dawson defended perfectly to end the threat.

Morgan forced Marietta to punt on its next possession and got the ball back at its own eight yard line. The Raiders again drove into Tigers territory before turning it over on another interception, this time by Isaac Danford. Morgan’s defense again came up with a big stop, holding Marietta to a 25 yard field goal by Justin Hammons with 7:49 remaining in the first half, the score 11-0.

However, the first play of Morgan’s next drive was another turnover, this time on a fumble recovered by Easton Wynn, and Marietta would finally make the Raiders pay. With the ball at Morgan’s 22 yard line, Bernard Johnson carried for 15 yards to set up Henry’s six yard slant pass to Danford in the endzone for a touchdown. Hammons booted the PAT to make Marietta’s lead 18-0.

Marietta put the game away in the third quarter with a six yard TD run by Davis, a one yard TD run by Henry and another safety on a bad snap to go up 32-0 and put into effect the new “running clock” rule. This year in Ohio, if a team leads by 30 or more in the second half, the clock runs continually with only minimal stoppages.

“It definitely makes the game go faster,” Schob said. “You need to make sure you’re prepared because there is very little stoppage and it’s hard to get kids in sometimes, but I think it’s good for the game.”

Davis added another six yard scoring run in the fourth quarter and Dominick VanFossen scored from nine yards out later in the period to send Schob home with his first career head coaching victory.

“I am very blessed to have this opportunity,” he said. “I’m very excited about the win. I just want to continue to improve and I don’t want to be satisfied.”