Vikings fall to Tigers, 34-14
MARIETTA — A goal-line stand by Marietta’s defense opened the contest here Friday night at Don Drumm Stadium versus visiting Ripley and quarterback Tyler Gerber found Kayden Durham thrice for touchdowns passes as the Tigers capped a 34-14 homecoming victory in style thanks to a Zach Bartlett 52-yard Pick-6.
The 3-2 Tigers of head coach Jason Schob, winners of three straight, denied Ripley on its opening possession despite the Vikings having a first-and-goal at the 9.
Marietta, which received a game-high 114 stripes on 18 attempts from Bartlett, proceeded to march 98 yards in nine plays. Bryson Chavez had a key 20-yard grab and Durham’s 13-yard scoring reception at 10:35 of the second put the hosts ahead for good at 7-0 thanks to Dillon Meagle’s extra point.
Ripley, which dropped to 1-3 for head man Steve Sayre and returns to action next Friday at 7:30 p.m. when Oak Hill invades Death Valley, fumbled on the very first play of the next series as Tiger senior Hudson Misel pounced on the loose ball.
Durham’s 30-yard TD grab from Gerber, who went 8 of 12 for 147 yards, made it 14-0.
After a Viking three-and-out, MHS used a 2-yard QB sneak by Gerber to go ahead 21-0 with 1:34 left in the half.
The Vikings cut it to 14 at intermission thanks to Parker Boyd’s 29-yard scoring strike from Ty Stephens and Carter Cochran’s PAT.
Marietta received the ball to start the second half and didn’t waste any time finding the end zone. Weston Davis, who went for 51 yards on a dozen totes, opened the drive with a 7-yard gain. Elyjah Lieras-Kelley had a 23-yard catch from Gerber to get the ball into Viking territory. Although a 6-yard sack by Viking Colton Rhodes forced a fourth-and-6 at the 35, Gerber once again hooked up with Durham for a 28-7 advantage with 8:49 left in third.
“It felt good,” admitted Durham, who had game-highs of four catches for 88 yards. “I was out for a couple weeks, but it’s good to be back and I’m glad I got to play tonight. This is a great time for me. This is only my second game played.
“It felt really good to be out there. I loved the play (Bartlett’s Pick-6). I ran all the way down just to jump up with him and I felt a cramp coming. It was a great play.”
Down but not out, the Vikings answered with a scoring drive of their own. Using a heavy dose of Joey Ramsey (17-36) and Brady Anderson (9-45), the Vikings crossed midfield. Stephens then hit Wyatt Simon for a 14-yard gain and followed that up with a 25-yard TD toss to Boyd. Kaitlyn Lawrence’s PAT made it 28-14 with 4:33 left in the third.
Although Simon intercepted Gerber on the next Tiger drive, the visitors were forced to punt.
Ripley’s ensuing drive, which went into the fourth quarter, also resulted in a punt. Despite the Viking defense forcing a three-and-out, Ripley once again had to punt on its next series. A tackle for loss by Blake Hanson along with a 15-yard sack by Davis thwarted the drive.
The last two Viking possessions resulted in Bartlett’s straight dash to the end zone as well as another Tiger interception thanks to Adam Lightfritz.
“I’m really proud of the kids. Our defensive line did a really good job stepping up,” said Tiger boss Jason Schob, whose squad returns to action at 7 p.m. next Friday at Weir. “That was one of our focuses this offseason was to try and stop the run and make teams pass the ball. They really stepped up and did a good job. I thought we threw the ball a little bit more, which we haven’t done in a while, and it made our offense a little more dynamic.
“I think our roster has been like a revolving door with kids in and out, but Durham did a really good job stepping up. He caught a couple passes in practice that sort of opened our eyes and we wanted to take a shot early on with him in the game and he responded well and did a great job.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org