Cass falls on the road to defending state champs

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The nationally ranked, defending state champ Rome Wolves won their 32nd game in a row, defeating region rival Cass 49-14 Friday night at Barron Stadium.

Cass had some nice moments in the game, with Logan Nelson finding Malik Grimes for a 50-yard touchdown play in the third quarter. There also was an 11-play, 85-yard drive by the Colonels, capped by a Nic Wallin to Javen Bridges 26-yard touchdown.

Considering the strength of the Rome team this year, Cass performed about as well as anyone could have hoped. 

“We kept fighting, scratching and clawing and kept playing, and that’s what our goal was going into this week,” Cass head football coach Bobby Hughes said. “It would had been really easy for us to lay down and give in, but our kids kept fighting and I’m proud of them. I feel really good about our effort, and if we come out and play with the same intensity next week, I’ll be satisfied.”

In the Wolves’ (5-0, 3-0 Region 7-AAAAA) first offensive drive of the game, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Knox Kadum to Tyreke Griffin gave the team an early 7-0 lead with 8:43 left in the first quarter.

When the Colonels (1-4, 0-3 Region 7-AAAAA) received the ball, its offense went three-and-out and was forced to punt the ball back to Rome. During the punting play, Xavier Roberts received the ball at about midfield and ran it back for a touchdown, but a holding penalty forced the points to be taken off the scoreboard. Instead, the Wolves began their drive on their own 35-yard line.

Nevertheless, on the next play, Rome’s Jamious Griffin rushed for a 45-yard gain, which put the team in the red zone. Three plays later, Kadum rushed for a 7-yard touchdown and the Wolves took a 13-0 lead. Alonzo Rodriguez’s successful extra point gave Rome a 14-0 lead with 5:05 left in the first.

On the second play of the subsequent Cass offensive drive, a fumble recovered by Rome gave the team a first down on the opponent’s 23-yard line. Two plays later, Griffin scored his first touchdown of the night, which gave Rome a 21-0 lead, after another successful extra point by Rodriguez.

With the Colonels back on offense, facing a second-and-8, Rett Moore rushed for 13 yards, giving Cass a first down on its own 47-yard line. On the next play, the Wolves stopped Moore’s attempt to rush the ball at the line of the scrimmage, but a facemask penalty gave the Colonels another first down at Rome’s 40-yard line. During the next three plays, Cass was unable to continue its offensive rhythm, as Grimes was stopped for negative yardage, Cameron Hill ran for three yards and Grimes was stopped once again behind the line of scrimmage.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Rome’s Griffin extended the team’s lead to 28-0 after a 29-yard touchdown run. The score by the North Carolina State commit capped off an eight-play drive for 80 yards for the Wolves.

Rome scored one more touchdown before the end of the first half via a 3-yard run by Trey Lawrence. A successful extra point by Rodriguez gave the team a 35-0 lead.

The Colonels went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, which forced the team to punt the ball. During the punting play, Rome’s Roberts returned the ball from about the 40-yard line to the Colonels' 3-yard line. On the next play, Lawrence scored once again and Rome led 42-0 with 9:40 left in the third.

On the Colonels' next offensive possession, Nelson’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Grimes helped the team put its first points on the scoreboard. The score by Grimes capped off a nine-play drive for 84 yards. A successful extra point by Kaleb Speights made the score 42-7.

After the Wolves were forced to punt for the first time in the game, Cass capitalized by putting together another long offensive drive and turning it into points. This time, the Colonels successfully ran an 11-play drive for 85 yards, which ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Wallin to Bridges. Another successful extra point by Speights shortened the Wolves' lead to 42-14.

With 18 seconds remaining in the game, Maliek Ash scored one last touchdown for Rome, which sealed the victory for the Wolves with a 49-14 score.

Cass quarterback Nelson went 3-for-6 for 64 yards and one touchdown, and Wallin was 3-for-4 for 48 yards and one touchdown. Grimes had one reception for 50 yards and one touchdown, while Bridges had four catches for 51 yards and one touchdown. Cameron Trammell also added one catch for nine yards.

Things won't get much easier for Cass, as the team will face No. 5-ranked Carrollton at Doug Cochran Stadium next week.