HAMPTON – All of the pieces that had carried the Rome Wolves through 12 wins this season got worked a little harder against the host Dutchtown Bulldogs on Friday night.
But the extra work reaped plenty rewards.
Jamious Griffin ran for 230 yards, quarterback Knox Kadum scored three touchdowns, and Rome’s defense nearly silenced a team that had defeated every opponent that came their way to capture a 28-14 win the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
“They were a tough team, and this was a hard-fought game,” Kadum said. “We really came alive after the first two drives in the game, made some adjustments, and I love this group of guys. We get to play another week.”
Next up for No. 1 Rome will be a rematch of the 2017 Class 5A state championship game with the Wolves set to travel to Warner Robins next Friday to take on the Demons in the state semifinals. Warner Robins, ranked No. 3 in the state, came from behind to defeat Clarke-Central 21-14 on Friday night.
While it took some time for Rome (13-0) to get its offense rolling, the Wolves never trailed against No. 4 Dutchtown, leading 15-0 at halftime and matching the Bulldogs score for score for score in the second half.
Griffin carried the ball 39 times in the game, including one for a touchdown from a yard out in the second quarter, and found his biggest success in the second half. The senior North Carolina State commit helped push Rome down the field on 68- and 63-yard scoring drives that set up a 4-yard touchdown runs by Kadum at the end of each.
“Jamious carried the load for us tonight, and once we got the running game going it was effective,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “As long as we got something going. And then they over-corrected and Knox was able to get in for some easy touchdowns. I was really proud of the way we adjusted.”
Dutchtown (12-1) relied on their passing game to get them any positive production as quarterback Arendez Fedd was 11 of 23 for 177 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolves’ defense showed it was prepared for the air attack.
Octavious Askew intercepted Fedd to end the Bulldogs’ opening drive while Derricus Smith, Marquis Glanton and Mahleek Melton breached Dutchtown’s front line throughout the night to keep the sophomore on his toes.
“A lot has been said about our defense, and this was a fantastic defense we played against,” Reid said. “They had some issues tonight with penalties that were tough to overcome. I’m proud of our guys. And with them trying to run their offense, they didn’t have very much success against our defense tonight.
Dutchtown, which had given up only 64 points all season, gave up 399 yards of offense while being held to 81 yards rushing.
Kadum finished 8-of-13 in the air for 98 yards and ran for another 72. Xavier Roberts-Donaldson had 82 yards receiving, putting him at over 1,000 yards for the season. The win was the 40th in a row for Rome, which holds the longest current winning streak of any high school football team in the state.
Kicker Alonzo Rodriguez put the Wolves on the board first by hitting a 45-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
Dutchtown got down to Rome’s 12-yard line on the ensuing drive after Glanton ran down the Bulldog receiver on a big gain only to be caught on fourth-and-1 at the 4. Fedd took a keeper up the middle but was met by Rome’s defense and pushed back for a 1-yard loss.
The entire game was played in a continuous misting-to-light rain paired with a breeze that brought the wind chill down into the 30s.
“I just think the play where Bubba hustled and tracked the guy down … and then to play with no turnovers in this weather. It was awful at times, in your face and raining hard. I thought the kids did a great job,” Reid said.