Photos by Rome City Schools
Friday nights at Barron Stadium have been a lot of fun over the past four years, with the Wolves dominating almost every opponent that comes to call. Haymakers have been thrown, but entering their tilt with the Carrollton Trojans, 23 consecutive games, Rome has emerged victorious on their home field.
That streak is impressive, but the fact that they have won their last 30 games at home and on the road made the target on their back even bigger for a quality opponent like the Trojans.
Carrollton’s fans packed the visiting stands and Georgia Public Broadcasting televised the game live across the state, giving exclusive coverage to a top 10 battle between Class 5A rivals. The hype train couldn’t have been any bigger and both teams did their part to live up to it.
When the dust settled the Wolves were again victorious, winning by a final score of 65-51, but it took four quarters to vanquish the Trojans, who put coaches, players and fans in Red and Gold on notice with a strong opening half.
After a huge stand by Rome’s defense on the opening Trojan drive, the Wolves’ offense allowed a safety, getting the scoring off to an unconventional start, giving Carrollton a 2-0 lead. From that point on, the person in charge of the jumbo screen lights at Baron had their work cut out for them.
In the blink of an eye, the Wolves were down 9-0 and found themselves playing catch up for the majority of the first half. The defense struggled to get stops and midway through the second quarter it looked like every streak Rome carried into the game was in jeopardy.
After narrowing the lead to 23-21, the Wolves pounced on a fumble by Trojan quarterback, Kashif Taylor and marched into the endzone a few plays later to make the score 27-23. Coach John Reid opted to go for two and pulled a trick play out of the bag, dialing up a reverse throwback to quarterback Knox Kadum for a successful conversion.
The Wolves had their first lead of the game and they never relinquished it.
Carrollton did tie the game at 29 on their next drive, but Rome answered with a touchdown of their own and went into the locker room with a 35-29 lead.
“Carrollton really came out swinging,” said Head Coach John Reid. “Their quarterback moved really well in the pocket and their receivers made a lot of plays. We made some adjustments and got a few stops before halftime and that momentum carried over to the second half.”
After looking unstoppable in the first half, Carrolton’s offense stalled in the third quarter, thanks to a much-improved effort from the Rome defense. The offense continued to pour on the points, creating a cushion that Carrolton was never able to fully eclipse and never getting closer than eight points the rest of the way.
That forced the Wolves to finish strong and when the final buzzer sounded a combined 116 points were on the scoreboard.
The stats mirrored PlayStation numbers.
Rome wracked up 676 yards of offense, led by Jamious Griffin’s 288 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. Xavier Roberts Donaldson tallied 11 catches and 4 touchdowns of his own, while quarterback Knox Kadum went 13-24 with 4 touchdowns through the air and another on the ground.
The Trojans piled up 577 yards of offense and gave Rome fits for all but one quarter, a situation that pushed the Wolves out of their comfort zone.
“We haven’t been put in this position many times in the last few seasons,” said Reid. “We knew we were going to be tested in these first four games. We knew it was going to be a tough stretch of football against quality opponents. To go on the road last week against Kell, and then turn around and face a team like Carrollton the next Friday was tough. Walking away with two wins is something I don’t think many teams in this region can do.”
“I’m really proud of our guys,” he continued. “When we needed to make plays on offense, they delivered and we got just enough stops on defense to get the win. We’ll get back to work on improving across the board, but to get challenged like this and come out with a win is big for us.”