Rome Wolves get back on top with win over Villa Rica

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - By TOMMY ROMANACH RN-T Sports Writer

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.”

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