MARIETTA — Pope proved its double-bye week did not affect its performance, dominating on both sides of the ball to beat Wheeler 35-7 and take over first place in Region 6AAAAAA.
Joel Brock led the way for the Greyhounds (5-1, 4-0), scoring three of their four touchdowns and adding two kick returns of more than 40 yards.
“It’s the trust we build at practice throughout the week,” Brock said. “Also just being able to rely on my quarterback (Patrick Lowe), who just trusts me to get there to make the plays, as well as me trusting him.”
A poor punt by Wheeler (1-6, 1-3) deep in its own territory set Pope up at the 8-yard line, making it easy for Brock to bulldoze through the defense for the first touchdown of the night.
Wheeler had another special teams miscue when a high snap rolled into the end zone, which the Greyhounds recovered for a safety, making it 8-0 with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
Pope continued to apply pressure as it opened the second quarter on a 12-play drive that lasted 5 minutes featuring a 20-yard catch from Nick Givens, a 32-yard carry from Brock and more than 15 yards in penalties to set up first-and-goal at the 1, where Brock scored his second rushing touchdown of the night.
The Wildcats’ inability to get into any kind of an offensive rhythm was discouraging to coach Bryan Love.
“Offensively it was hard for us to get anything going,” he said. “We just had too many penalties and mishaps on punts. That’s what happens when you’re deep into the season and you’re playing a team like (Pope), it’s going to be tough.”
With 43 seconds left before halftime Lowe threw a 15-yard touchdown to Cam Bleshoy.
The Greyhounds scored their final touchdown at the end of the third quarter on a seven-play drive that put them at the 3-yard line, where Brock scored to make it 35-0.
A last-ditch effort by Wheeler in the fourth quarter with 3 minutes left until the end of the game quarterback Mariucus Romian threw a 34-yard pass to Jordan Mcinis for a touchdown.
“It’s good to celebrate but we still have to go play (Kennesaw Mountain) next week,” Griffin said. “Our kids have been kind of circling that game because we didn’t have a chance to face them last year due to COVID. If we lose the game next week we’re going to be taking a step back so we just need to get our minds right and focus on tomorrow. For now, we feel like we control our own destiny, so we just have to put in the work this week and hopefully win.”