GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Dominant … in all three phases of the game.
The offense, defense and special teams all contributed to an early 38-0 fourth quarter advantage, and Gallia Academy eventually rolled to a 45-16 victory over visiting Marietta in a Week 4 non-conference matchup Friday night at Memorial Field in the Old French City.
The Blue Devils (3-1) completed a season-opening four-game home stand in style after limiting the Tigers (1-3) to minus-14 yards of total offense in the first half. GAHS recorded four sacks, forced one fumble and returned a punt for a score before the intermission, allowing the hosts to secure a 28-0 edge at halftime.
A defensive touchdown and a field goal gave Gallia Academy a whopping 38-0 advantage with 11:02 remaining in the second half, and both teams let their reserves finish out the contest — which wrapped up the 29-point triumph.
The Blue Devils — winners of three straight — picked up their fifth straight decision over Marietta, which has now dropped three in a row. GAHS also outgained the guests by a 29-191 overall margin in total offense and finished the night plus-3 in turnover differential.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to end a home stand before venturing out for your road game, or at least GAHS coach Wade Bartholomew thought so afterwards.
“I really felt like the kids came out and executed a lot of the game plan, all the way through in all three phases of the game,” Bartholomew said. “There were some things that we didn’t do great, but we did a lot of the little things well tonight and I was proud of the effort they gave.
“It was a great job in finishing up the home stand and now we need to get ready for something new against a pretty good Vinton County team next week. We need to be ready, because it’s going to be a physical football game and they will be well-prepared for us.”
Things didn’t start out too well for the hosts, as Marietta recovered its own opening kickoff at the GAHS 23-yard line just seven seconds into regulation. The Blue Devils, however, allowed no yards and came up with a sack on fourth down, which gave the hosts possession at their own 32.
The Devils’ drive would stall and led to a punt, but MHS fumbled on the very next play — and Josh Johnson recovered the ball on the Marietta 34. Three plays and 34 yards later, Gallia Academy claimed a 7-0 lead after Reid Eastman hauled in a 25-yard scoring pass from Wade Jarrell with 7:59 left in the opening period.
The score stayed that way until the second quarter, as Ty Warnimont gave GAHS a 14-0 edge after pulling in a 12-yard pass from Jarrell with 10:56 left before halftime.
Both teams traded punts on its next possessions and the Tigers followed with another punt, which Eastman took 35 yards to the house for a 21-0 lead with 5:43 remaining. Wes Jarrell added a 35-yard scoring catch from Wade Jarrell with 1:18 left before halftime to give the Blue Devils a sizable 28-0 cushion at the break.
GAHS accumulated 196 yards of total offense in the first half, 85 of which came on the ground. Marietta, conversely, had 19 rushes for negative 19 yards before halftime. Both teams also committed one turnover apiece in the opening 24 minutes.
Both teams traded punts to start the second half, then MHS put together a nine-play drive that ultimately ended in disaster after lineman Anthony Sipple picked off an Anthony Kimbrough pass and returned it 46 yards to paydirt. Sipple’s pick-six gave the hosts a 35-0 cushion with 3:04 left in the third.
Johnson came away with his second fumble recovery two plays later, and GAHS followed with a successful 39-yard field goal from Dylan Saunders — giving the hosts a 38-0 edge.
The Tigers finally cracked the scoreboard on its ensuing possession, as the guests capped a five-play, 62-yard drive at the 8:55 mark when Connor Beavers rumbled in from 14 yards out for a 38-8 contest.
Gallia Academy answered with a seven-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 45-8 lead after Eric Ward plunged in from four yards out with 5:21 remaining in the game. Aaron Elliott concluded the scoring just 13 seconds later after taking a handoff 65 yards to the endzone, making it a 45-16 game with 5:08 left.
The Blue Devils finished the night with 121 passing yards and 175 rushing yards on 39 attempts. MHS, conversely, tallied five passing yards and 186 rushing yards on 37 totes. GAHS also claimed a slim 14-11 overall edge in first downs.
Wes Jarrell led the Blue Devils with 121 yards on 11-of-16 passing, throwing three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The senior also added 18 rushing yards on eight tries.
Kole Carter led the GAHS ground game with 53 yards on six carries, followed by Eric Ward with 33 yards on six tries. Logan Allison and Ty Warnimont added 29 and 27 yards on four and eight totes, respectively.
Reid Eastman led the Devil wideouts with three catches for 47 yards, while Wes Jarrell hauled in four passes for 45 yards.
Elliott led the Tigers with 65 rushing yards on one carry, while Beavers chipped in 37 yards on five attempts. Anthony Kimbrough finishes the night 1-for-10 passing for five yards, throwing one interception. Quinton Coffield had the lone MHS reception for five yards.
GAHS was penalized nine times for 65 yards, while Marietta was flagged five times for 25 yards. The hosts punted three times for an average of 32.3 yards, while the Tigers averaged 25.6 yards on six punts.
Tyler Ebert recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter to join Johnson in that category. Johnson also had 2.5 sacks for the hosts, while Brian Williams added one sack and Jon Byus had half of a sack.
With his field goal early in the fourth, Saunders — who was a perfect 6-for-6 on PAT kicks — became the program’s alltime leader in successful field goals for a career as a junior.
Gallia Academy returns to action now Friday when it travels to McArthur for a Week 5 matchup with Vinton County at 7:30 p.m.