No. 9 Marietta wide receiver Ricky White dropped a go-ahead touchdown pass trailing 17-14 with a 1:04 left in the game.
Fifty seconds later, he more than made up for it by making the game-winning touchdown grab.
Marietta took down No. 11 St. Joseph’s Prep 21-17 in a game that saw two lead changes in the final 1:18.
In the dramatic finish, No. 4 2020 quarterback Harrison Bailey drove down field and led Marietta to the win over the final minute.
He finished the game with 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Marietta took down No. 5 2021 quarterback Kyle McCord in what might be the game of the year so far.
Marietta has a short-term memory (in the best way possible)
Bailey had thrown five straight incompletions in the drive prior. During that drive, he had turned to running the ball, getting a first down on second-and-12 himself and then handing the ball to running back Kimani Vidal for a 19-yard gain.
He barely missed star tight end Arik Gilbert’s outstretched fingers on a deep throw that might have put the game away.
At the time, Marietta led 14-10. St. Joseph’s Prep got the ball back and McCord drove down the field — more on that later — to put his team ahead.
Whe Bailey stepped back onto the field, he had forgotten about those incompletions.
On the first play of the drive, he aired it out to White, a perfect throw that would have been an easy touchdown, but White dropped it.
Bailey forgot about that play too. He went back to White.
The Michigan State WR commit made a spectacular play for a 30-yard gain, leaping and grabbing the ball around a defender’s helmet.
Then, with four-star linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. mere inches away from Bailey’s arm, the quarterback fired a pass to White, who was crossing the line to the end zone.
This time, White held on.
Kyle McCord is calm under pressure
McCord is not a normal junior. He is poised as they come and looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the nation during the drive that put St. Joseph’s up 17-14.
Trailing 14-10, McCord hit ALL-USA wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. on a short route crossing in front, then Harrison extended the play.
McCord went back to Harrison, hitting him with a pass downfield, but Harrison was unable to hang on.
Then, one more time, the quarterback aimed for his go-to receiver. It looked like Harrison was held by a defender — the camera angle wasn’t definite, but he only raised one arm when attempting to catch the ball and his shoulder pad definitely came out — but there was no flag. That is, until a few seconds later, when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Marietta was called.
McCord turned to a different receiver for a 22-yard gain, and then went back to Harrison in the end zone. Harrison drew a pass interference. This time, the flag was called.
Within the 10-yard line, McCord dropped a pass into wide receiver Sahmir Hagans. Hagans made an excellent catch over a defender, who had his arm in there, to come down with the ball.
That looked like it could be game. Marietta was struggling to move the ball against St. Joseph’s Prep. McCord’s poise put them ahead with just over a minute left.
He finished the game 18-for-30 with 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
But then Bailey came alive and won it.
Two standout Marietta defenders
Four-star Tennessee commit BJ Ojulari finished the game with four tackles for loss, two of which came in consecutive drives in the fourth quarter.
On a third-and-three on St. Joseph’s Prep’s first drive of the fourth quarter, McCord handed the ball off. Ojulari was there. He broke through the line and the ball-carrier for loss.
St. Joseph’s went for it on fourth down … and this time, Auburn commit Andre Stewart was there. The throw wasn’t good, but the 2022 cornerback’s coverage prevented anything from getting close to the target.
On the following drive, Stewart made a strong tackle on a quick pass to the outside to drop the receiver immediately. One play later, Ojulari got his fourth tackle for loss.
The final two drives of the game were filled with excitement and offense in an overall low-scoring game.
Marietta might not have gotten to that point without Ojulari and Stewart.