MARIETTA -- Pope’s defense and running game once again led the way as the Greyhounds beat Centennial 48-28 in a rare Saturday afternoon game.
The game was rescheduled after Friday night's severe weather prevented it from kicking off at the Pope Multi-Sport Complex.
Despite throwing off the Greyhounds' normal routine, they showed no ill effects after Saturday's 11 a.m. kickoff, especially early on.
“I felt comfortable about this type of game,” Pope coach Tab Griffin said. “For us, the last 24 hours have kind of been what we’ve been going through at practice. We’re used to it. We’re used to this adversity, just kind of crazy things happening. These guys, I’m proud of them because they didn’t fall to it. We showed up, we went to work, did our business and came out with a win.”
Pope (2-1, 1-0 Region 7AAAAAA) intercepted Centennial freshman quarterback Zaire Goff four times in the first half, including on the first play of the game.
After a failed onside kick attempt by Pope to start the game, the Greyhounds' Matt d’Amico responded by intercepting Goff and returning the ball to the Centennial 34-yard line. Three Joe Stellmach runs later, the Greyhounds had the lead.
Goff ended the game 28-of-43 for 348 yards and four touchdowns, but he also had four interceptions.
“I knew they were going to throw the ball a lot,” Griffin said. “I felt good because I knew we’re pretty good on the back end.”
Pope attacked in the opposite way on offense, throwing only five passes all game.
The Greyhounds rushed for 293 yards, and Stellmach played a big part in its success on the ground. He ran for 99 yards in the first half and finished the game with 156 yards on 15 carries. He scored three times on the ground and once through the air on a 62-yard screen from quarterback Kemper Hodges.
“We’ve done a good job the last couple weeks,” Griffin said. “Our offensive line, they’re a tough, gritty bunch, and they did a heck of a job. We want to throw the ball a lot more, but we settled into a game in which we thought we could run the ball pretty much on any down and we wanted to shorten the game.”
In between Stellmach’s first two rushing touchdowns, and after a Goff touchdown pass to Julian Nixon to cut into the Pope lead, Rhett Godfrey came up with the first of his two interceptions on the day and returned it for a touchdown.
Centennial (0-3, 0-1) scored right before the halftime break to cut Pope's lead to 27-14.
Stellenmach scored his third rushing touchdown on Pope’s opening possession of the second half, and a 56-yard pass from Hodges to Daunte Ford put the game out of hand. Will Zegers added a late touchdown, and Centennial found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter on 70- and 57-yard touchdown passes against Pope’s second-string defense.
Hodges finished an efficient 4-of-5 passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Nixon was the game’s leading receiver, totaling nine catches for 126 yards.