MARIANNA — South Walton probably wishes it could play every week at Bulldog Stadium.
Six weeks after claiming a dramatic 30-27 win over Marianna (6-5), the Seahawks repeated the feat Friday night with a 38-24 victory to end the Bulldogs’ season.
The teams exchanged the lead four times, but South Walton (6-4) won the fourth quarter 14-3 and earned a trip to Jacksonville to take on top seed Bolles next week in the Region 1-4A semifinals.
Marianna led 14-10 at halftime and tied the game 24-24 on a 37-yard field goal by Caleb Torbett with 5:35 left in the fourth quarter.
Caleb Torbett 37-yard field goal and we’re tied 24-24, 5:40 to play. pic.twitter.com/cIdVlFgJex— Dustin Kent (@PCNHDustinKent) November 9, 2019
But South Walton answered with a 10-play, 69-yard touchdown drive and then put the game away with a 57-yard interception return touchdown by Tyler Mitchum with 1:23 remaining.
"What can you say? It’s tough," Marianna coach John Donaldson said. "We just didn’t do what we needed to do to win. The kids fought hard. It was just a great matchup, but we didn’t get it done."
PLAYER OF THE GAME
South Walton quarterback Drake Roberts
The senior quarterback passed for 311 yards and four touchdowns in his first game against the Bulldogs and followed that Friday by completing 18 of 29 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown while rushing seven times for 40 yards and two more TDs.
Roberts’ favorite target was his little brother, Cade, who caught eight passes for 113 yards.
Drake found JM Allen for a 4-yard touchdown on South Walton’s second snap of the second half, then scored on rushing touchdowns from 40 and 9 yards out to put the Seahawks up for good.
Quick response by South Walton with two play drive as Drake Roberts keeps it and goes untouched 38 yards to the end zone pic.twitter.com/MBq39n1hjU— Dustin Kent (@PCNHDustinKent) November 9, 2019
"He’s a phenomenal player and a great leader," South Walton coach Phil Tisa said of Drake. "The last time we were here he had over 300 yards passing, so I think he likes playing on this field."
STAT OF THE NIGHT
That’s the number of offensive plays that South Walton ran in the third quarter compared to 18 for Marianna.
Despite the disparity, the Seahawks actually outscored the Bulldogs 14-7 for the period.
The first touchdown came after a strange special teams play when Marianna players were slow to down a shanked punt and South Walton’s Elias Foreman scooped it up and returned it 60 yards to the Bulldog 5-yard line.
A 13-play Bulldogs scoring march was then followed by a two-play drive by South Walton, with Drake Roberts keeping it and going untouched through the middle of the Marianna defense for a 38-yard touchdown.
"We made some plays when we needed them and got some big turnovers on defense. The pick-six was huge. I never really felt comfortable until after that. I was proud of the way the defense stepped up, and we got some big runs offensively late. I know everybody thought we would just throw the ball every play."
– South Walton coach Phil Tisa
Even after the Seahawks’ last touchdown drive, Marianna still had a good opportunity to go for the tie with the ball at its own 42-yard line with two minutes to play.
A 17-yard pass from Brady Donaldson to Corey Davis got the Bulldogs into South Walton territory at the 41.
But two plays later, Mitchum stepped in front of a Donaldson pass to the sideline and took it back all the way to the end zone to essentially seal the victory.
Pick-6 by Tyler Mitchum and that should wrap it up. pic.twitter.com/Mf0cU8QjFc— Dustin Kent (@PCNHDustinKent) November 9, 2019
South Walton will look to continue its season in the Region 1-4A semifinals against No. 1 seed Bolles (8-1).