It was a battle until the end on Friday night at Don Drumm Stadium.
Athens and Marietta faced off as both teams searched for their first win of the season. After failing to score in its first two games of the season, Athens kept Friday’s game close and took a lead for the first time all season. However, Athens will still be looking for its first win after a disappointing finish to a hard-fought game that ended with a 36-28 Marietta victory in overtime.
The game had a rocky start for both the Bulldogs and Tigers with multiple fumbles and no score in the first quarter. Things got going after a rushing touchdown early in the second quarter by the Tigers.
Landon Wheatley responded with a 25-yard pass into the end zone caught by Marcus Stevens to tie up the score at 7. Athens didn’t let up afterward as an interception by Luke Brandes led the team to another touchdown pass from Wheatley to Stevens to make it 14-7 going into halftime.
The beginning of the second half came with more back-and-forth action. Marietta ran in for a touchdown on its opening drive, and Brandes followed that up with a 7-yard scoring run to take the lead again.
“There was a lot of adversity in this game from both sides,” coach Nathan White said. “Our kids never wavered, they kept battling.”
The game was tied at 21 with little time left in the fourth quarter after another rushing touchdown from the Tigers. The Bulldogs took back the lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Brandes, once again. The Tigers got the ball back shortly after and were able to run it in again to tie it up at 28 with less than a minute of regulation remaining.
Athens had 43 seconds to take back the lead but failed to convert on a fourth down in Marietta territory after a false start and incomplete pass. The game went into overtime and was the closest contest of the season for both teams so far.
The Tigers went on offense first and wasted no time in taking the lead. A 1-yard touchdown run and successful two-point conversion put them up by eight. The Bulldogs got their chance to show what they could make happen, but a fumbled ball recovered by the Tigers sealed the deal.
Both teams had a combination of lost fumbles and turnovers but kept the game close. It was truly a battle until the end. Ultimately, for the Bulldogs, it came down to the team having many missed opportunities.
White emphasized how important toughness was and knows that it’s something the team needs to work on looking ahead to the next game.
“We made a ton of mistakes offensively tonight (with) turnovers, missed assignments,” White said. “We’ve got to clean that up but overall we’ve got to be tougher.”
The Bulldogs will be back on their home field as they face Alexander next Friday, hoping again for their first win. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m.