The strong defensive performance was led by linebacker Justin Wade, who came up big in stuffing the Patriots’ running game.
“Justin is the quiet type,” Allatoona defensive coordinator Troy Peterson said. “He lets his play speak for himself. He’s a big hitter and a leader for this team.”
The senior is the lone returner from last season’s defensive unit, but his younger teammates have quickly proven themselves as the Bucs defense has started the season with two straight shut outs.
Right on cue, the Buccaneers’ sealed the game in the third quarter.
The defense forced two turnovers including a fumble, which resulted in a second safety, and an interception returned 47 yards to the 1-yard line by John Njuguna to set up a touchdown. Allatoona also snuffed out a fake punt attempt.
Bettistea, who had 13 carries for 178 yards and two touchdowns, scored on a 16-yard run, while Russell Halimon added two touchdown runs of 6 and 9 yards.
Coach Gary Varner was very high on his running backs after the game.
“All of our backs played well tonight,” he said. “Russell played especially well, he ran the ball hard and smart.”
Paulding County controlled the ball for the better part of the first half running 39 plays to Allatoona’s 17.
However, a blocked punt for a safety followed by a 55-yard touchdown run by Bettistea on the next play put Allatoona in front 9-0.
The road gets a little more difficult for the Buccaneers going forward.
Despite outscoring their opponents 89-0 through the first two games, both Coach Varner and Coach Peterson stressed the work the team has to put in this week. “We are going to have to play a lot better next week,” Varner said, “We have to play smarter and more disciplined to beat Rome.”