Pope’s Joe Stellmach, along with a stingy defense, helped the Greyhounds secure their first win of the season with a 27-6 victory over region rival Lassiter on Friday.
Stellmach ran for 178 yards on 10 carries that included touchdowns of 55 and 94 yards, with the latter putting the game out of reach.
Pope coach Tab Griffin was proud of his team for how they started the game.
“I was proud of them because they came out and played physical,” he said. “I told them before the game that we are a good football team and they have to start believing that.”
The Greyhounds set the tone of the game early with a strong defensive stand to force Lassiter to go three-and-out on their first drive of the game.
The offense got on the board one play later when Stellmach broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead.
On Pope’s ensuing drive, Joel Brock scored on a 27-yard touchdown with 1:18 left in the first quarter, and the score would stay 13-0 at halftime.
The Trojans cut into the Greyhounds’ lead in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Evan Manring making the score 13-6. He finished the game with 69 yards on 19 carries.
The Greyhounds responded quickly with another one-play drive on a 73-yard touchdown run by Jasper Merriman to push the lead to 20-6 at the end of the third quarter. Merriman finished the game with 109 yards on six carries.
In the fourth quarter, the Trojans successfully faked a punt to keep a late drive alive and managed to get down to the Pope 6-yard line, but the Greyhounds defense stopped them on fourth down.
Lassiter coach Sean Thom said his team had to take advantage of the scoring opportunities they had this game.
“”We have to score in the red zone,” Thom said. “It doesn’t do a lot of good if you are moving the ball but can’t punch it in.”
After taking over on the 6, Stellmach broke a few tackles went the length of the field with the final score.
Griffin said that Stellmach’s play tonight was huge for the team after being limited this season.
Pope’s defense sealed the game with a late interception.
“They fought here and there,” Thom said. “But we were not gritty enough.”
Pope ended the game with 376 yards off offense, including 348 on the ground.
“We had two really tough games at the start of the season,” Griffin said. “Our kids don’t quit, they keep fighting.”