The point total was the fourth-best in the Wildcats’ 48-year history, and the most since they scored 63 against Cherokee in 1996.
Wheeler (2-0) has already totaled 103 points on the young season, giving up just 34.
Quarterback Elijah Staley orchestrated the offensive barrage with 276 passing yards, throwing for two touchdowns and running for an additional two scores. Devontae Jackson rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Harland Howell had three catches for 97 yards, with his 67-yard touchdown catch capping Wheeler’s opening drive. Jacobi Green totaled 67 receiving yards.
While the score appeared lopsided, the game was still up for grabs, even as Wheeler led 33-20 at the half. All that changed, however, when the Wildcats scored 26 unanswered points in the third quarter, and their defense held Pope (0-2) to minus-7 yards and forced three turnovers.
“It was a dog fight through the middle of the second half,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said. “We made a couple of adjustments and it was great to see the kids execute.”
Pope had the ball to begin the second half, with a chance to cut the Wheeler lead to a touchdown. Quincye Price, however, sacked Pope quarterback Taylor Wolf for a 10-yard loss and forced a three-and-out. The Wildcats ended up with the ball on the Pope 21, and Jackson rushed into the end zone from 10 yards out on the second play.
The Greyhounds fumbled the snap on the first play of the next drive, and Wheeler got a 42-yard field goal by Victor Alvez out of it. The Wildcats scored again with 1:29 left in the third quarter as Billy Polakowski’s 8-yard touchdown run capped an 11-play drive. The Wildcats added another touchdown when Pope fumbled in the end zone, and Antoneo West pounced on it.
“We put pressure on the quarterback (in the third quarter),” Collins said. “We were fortunate enough to get him down before he would get it off.”
Pope started slowly in the first quarter and couldn’t generate a lot of offense until late in the period, when Wheeler already had a 14-0 lead. Each of the Greyhounds’ three touchdowns cut the deficit to a single possession, but they couldn’t prevent the Wildcats from responding successfully.
Pope’s first score came when Wolf threw a screen pass to Logan Carr for a 14-yard touchdown, and the second came on a 44-yard strike to Carson Day. The third came on a 6-yard run by Carr after defensive lineman Matthew Jones picked off a Staley pass near midfield and returned it to the 6.
But Wheeler took away the momentum with 15 seconds in the half, when Staley scored on a 7-yard run.