Rome Wolves get back on top with win over Villa Rica
Last season, John Reid began his career at Rome with a barn-burning 48-44 win against Villa Rica on the road. The Wolves met the Wildcats again Friday night at Barron Stadium, and things went a little differently.
Rome’s offense provided a balanced attack that Villa Rica struggled with all night long, and the defense recovered from early miscues as the Wolves won 49-7. Reid’s squad has now won five straight games and seven straight at Barron Stadium.
And with Carrollton’s 34-14 win against Kell Friday night, Rome now stands tied for first with the Longhorns and Trojans in Region 7-5A.
“I thought Villa Rica played tough against us, I think they made some stuff happen,” Reid said. “We struggled on defense to start, and we have to work on that. But we found some things on offense and we turned things around defensively.”
Quarterback Knox Kadum led the Wolves, going 18-for-23 for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Backs Jalynn Sykes and Jamious Griffin combined for 232 yards and four touchdowns, and Jordan Watkins recorded 153 receiving yards and two scores.
The game’s turning point came in the first quarter, when Villa Rica was setting up for a field goal to cut the deficit to 14-10.
The kick was blocked by Jaylen Griffin, and Rome (6-2, 5-1 Region 7-5A) went on a 21-0 run to go up 35-7 at halftime.
“Our offense was already clicking, but I think that field goal block got things back for us,” Reid. “I think the kids kind of said, ‘OK we have to get down to brass tacks now and start getting tougher here.’”
The Wildcats (4-5, 3-4) did all they could, with star running back Elijah Fluker gaining only 44 yards on 15 carries.
They recorded 127 passing yards, most of those coming on a 95-yard touchdown pass from Noah Best to Phillip Zachary on their first play from scrimmage.
But Villa Rica’s biggest problem was stopping the Wolves’ offense, something it achieved once in the entire first half. Rome consistently won the game at the line of scrimmage, allowing Kadum and company to do what they wanted.
The Wolves started the game with a 1-yard score from Jamious, followed by a Kadum touchdown pass to Marquis Kirby. Sykes opened the second quarter with a blistering 66-yard touchdown run, and Rome didn’t look back from there.
“Our line kept getting a good push, and our offense kept finding the holes,” Jamious said. “As the season has gotten deeper and deeper, we’ve come together and played more as a team and as a family.”
Villa Rica simply looked lost in second quarter, struggling to gain positive yardage and avoid mistakes.
After Rome went up 28-7, the Wildcats fumbled the ensuing kickoff and lucked out only when the Wolves fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback.
The Wolves were just as determined in the second half, and Villa Rica was unable to get past midfield in the final two quarters. Rome put the finishing touches in the fourth quarter with a 77-yard touchdown pass to Watkins and a 72-yard run from Jamious.
Rome plays again next week when it hosts East Paulding, while the Wildcats will finish their season next week at home against Cass.
And despite now being tied for the Region lead, Reid’s message to his team is the same as it was heading into Friday.
“We have to win out,” Reid said. “Nobody is in the playoffs, nothing has been decided, so you have to win out.”