The Rome High Wolves have had their fair share of impressive comebacks over the years, and for a while Friday night it appeared that the Wolves were going to start this season in that same manner.
After trailing South Paulding by 20 points at the half, Rome stormed back in the second half to take the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Then it was South Paulding’s turn to come back. The Spartans scored their final touchdown midway through the fourth, and held Rome scoreless the final six minutes to hand the Wolves a 42-35 loss at Barron Stadium.
“Our kids played hard, and I’m trying to find some positives,” said Rome coach Franco Perkins. “It just took us too long to get going, and it was a game of momentum changes and big plays.”
Leading the Wolves’ (0-1) comeback bid was senior tailback Frank Griffin, who finished the night with 162 rushing yard on 19 carries and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
Senior Leif Womack ran for a touchdown and finished with 102 yards on 16 carries, and Myron Washington had 13 carries for 85 yards.
South Paulding only needed one play to score the final touchdown of the game, and it came on a 77-yard pass from quarterback Chandler Burks to wide-out L.J. Pope.
Burks finished the night with 225 passing yards and three touchdowns in the air, and he also rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
“I felt like we were in slow motion most of the first half,” said Perkins. “We didn’t make too many adjustments at the half. We just talked about playing harder and playing faster.
“Our kids came out and did that and we felt good about ourselves for awhile, and then we gave up that big play at the end, and it took the air out of us.”
South Paulding scored on their first two possessions of the game to quickly take a 14-0 lead over the Wolves. Rome got their rushing attack going late in the first quarter and tied the game by scoring two quick touchdowns of their own.
The Spartans scored 20 unanswered before halftime to take a 34-14 lead over the Wolves.
The Rome defense held South Paulding scoreless in the third quarter while scoring two touchdowns of their own to cut the Spartans’ lead to 34-28. The Wolves took their first and only lead of the game with 10:57 left in the game.
“They did a good job of executing, and we didn’t,” said Perkins. “We couldn’t get off the field on third down, and we did a lot to help them.
“I was proud of our guys for coming out and playing the second half like they did.”
The Wolves, who play an all-region schedule, will have to quickly put this loss behind them as they travel to Hiram on Friday for a pivotal 5-AAAAA contest.
“We’ve got some good things going, and I think we’ve got some things we can learn from this game and help us next week and for the rest of the season,” said Perkins. “The biggest thing for our guys is to keep their heads up and go back to work on Monday and get ready for next week.”