Wolves surge in 2nd half against Jaguars

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Jeremy Ste­wart RN-T Sports Ed­i­tor

Spe­cial teams is not taken lightly by the Rome High foot­ball team. It’s seen as a ma­jor part of its game plan through­out the week.

And when the Wolves were feel­ing a lit­tle un­like them­selves against Cedar Shoals on Fri­day night, it was their spe­cial teams which made a pair of game-chang­ing plays and gave Rome the boost it needed to de­feat the Jaguars 63-13.

The first round vic­tory at Bar­ron Sta­dium se­cures the Wolves a spot in the Class 5A round of 16 next week when they will host the win­ner of tonight’s game be­tween Ban­neker and South­west Dekalb.

“The thing that I’ve been say­ing all along is be thank­ful to get to the fi­nal 16,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “I think last year the Wolf Na­tion and ev­ery­body was just ex­cited to win a play­off game and move on. We’ve got to get back to that. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to win one at a time.”

Jamious Griffin had 106 yards on 17 car­ries and four touch­downs for the Wolves, while quar­ter­back Knox Kadum ran for 53 yards and two touch­downs to go with a 34-yard touch­down pass to Je­vard Wil­liams late in the third quar­ter that made it 56-13 and put the game well in the hand.

The Jaguars ( 6- 5) got the ball to start the sec­ond half and Rome’s Mar­quis Glan­ton in­ter­cepted the ball on the third play from scrim­mage, tak­ing it back to the 10. Kadum then ran it in form 3 yards out two plays later.

Kicker Emanuel Gon­za­lez, who was 9-for-9 on the night, made the ex­tra point to put Rome up 35-13.

A f um­ble by Cedar Shoals on the en­su­ing deep kick­off by Alonzo Ro­driguez was re­cov­ered by Rome’s Trai Hodges at the Jaguar 7-yard line. Griffin cov­ered the re­main­ing dis­tance on the next play to reach the end zone for the third time of the night.

Em­pow­ered by t he fresh 29-point lead, the Wolves de­fense swarmed Cedar Shoals on the next pos­ses­sion and forced the vis­i­tors to punt on f ourth- and- 15. That’s when Denor­ris Jack­son zoomed in to block the punt, and Quenter­rious Ken­nemore fell on it at the 25.

Three plays later, and Griffin took the right edge around and in for a 6-yard touch­down run with 6:53 left in the quar­ter.

“Spe­cial teams used to be a thing where you didn’t want to be on them, but our kids re­ally take their role to heart and they know that’s a big team play,” Reid said. “We had three turnovers in a row. That’s a lot for a team to over­come. That was a dif­fer­ence-maker.”

Rome (11-0) held a 28-13 lead at half­time, but Cedar Shoals had ex­posed the home team in the first half that left the mood tense as the Wolves headed to the locker room.

A fake punt al­lowed the Jaguars to keep their first drive alive and score on a 20-yard pass on the very next play. Later, in the sec­ond quar­ter, Kadum had a pass in­ter­cepted on the first play of a drive. Rome’s de­fense was able to hold Cedar Shoals to a field goal twice in the pe­riod.

“They sprinted out, they ran some plays out of dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions that were hard to get ad­justed to early. And we made some mis­takes,” Reid said. “I think they’ll un­der­stand that it’s play­off foot­ball. I could feel the mo­men­tum ( shift), and I think it’s good for our kids to feel it. It went back and forth for a while.”

Jeremy Ste­wart / RN-T

Rome High’s Jamious Griffin (6) shrugs off Cedar Shoals’ Osiris Walker on his way to the end zone dur­ing the first quar­ter of Fri­day’s Class 5A state play­off game.

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