MHS nips John Marshall 7-6 in varsity scrimmage

If Thursday evening was a sign of things to come for Marietta High’s football team, the Tigers will be a team to look out for this fall.

MHS scrimmaged John Marshall, of West Virginia’s Class AAA, at Don Drumm Stadium Thursday and looked sharp for the most part. The two teams played their varsity squads for two 12-minute quarters before giving way to the JV teams. Varsity-wise, the Tigers were victorious 7-6.

“We had our moments where we did the right things,” said Marietta head coach Jason Schob. “It’s a process. Obviously John Marshall is a very good football team. It was a good test to see where we’re at and it exposed some things we need to work on.”

The Tigers gave quarterbacks John Henry and Trent Dawson equal repetitions under center in the scrimmage, though neither completed a pass. Schob said the coaches will review film of the scrimmage before deciding on a starter.

Marietta’s defense forced three turnovers in the first half of play, one of which led to its lone score.

John Marshall had the ball at its own 45 yard line before Austin Jones sacked the Monarchs quarterback for an 11-yard loss. Trying to get some of that yardage back, John Marshall attempted a screen pass but Marietta’s Travis Moore snuffed it out for an interception, setting the Tigers up at the 27.

After a John Marshall encroachment penalty, Jones rushed for five yards and a first down before Garrett Davis took a handoff up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown. Justin Hammons added the point-after to make it 7-0 with 1:59 left in the first quarter.

Coincidently, John Marshall’s only score of the half followed Marietta’s lone turnover.

After the Tigers forced a three-and-out early in the second quarter, they got the ball at their own 23. With Dawson in for his first series under center, Marietta faced a 3rd-and-8 situation. Dawson took the snap and rolled to his right, looking for tight end Bailey Wright on an out route, but his pass was tipped and picked off to give the Monarchs good field position at Marietta’s 37.

Thanks to a John Marshall block in the back and a Corey Adams sack, Marietta had the Monarchs in a 4th-and-13 situation from the 40. However, a John Marshall receiver got open down the left sideline on a fly route and the QB hit him in stride for a 40-yard touchdown. The kicker missed the PAT, making the score 7-6 with six minutes left in the half.

“Obviously with a young team you’re gonna have breakdowns like that once in a while,” Schob said. “It’s something to learn from.”

Marietta was able to move the ball fairly consistently courtesy of the ground game. The Tigers drove all the way to John Marshall’s 19 yard line on their first drive of the night. Marietta faced 3rd-and-8 early in the possession but a 10-yard sweep to Aaron Elliot gave the Tigers a first down. Two plays later, Davis carried for 21 yards to John Marshall’s 43. Later, Henry broke out of a sack and ran for 10 yards to get Marietta to the 19. The drive stalled, though, as Marietta lost yardage on three consecutive plays, including back-to-back sacks of Henry to put Marietta out of field goal range.

“We’ve talked about it going into the season that we want to try and run the football, chew up the clock and make games as competitive as possible,” Schob said. “Once we get into the season, we’ll look at possibly opening it up a little more.”

All told, the Tigers were 4-for-8 on third downs and had eight total first downs in the scrimmage. Defensively they were able to get constant pressure on the QB on passing plays and, outside of a decent gain here and there, held the running game in check. Schob has reason to be optimistic going into next Friday’s season opener at Morgan.

“I was very happy with our defense,” Schob said. “We still have some work to do but I’m pretty pleased with the product we’ve put out there so far.”