Walking off the field at Barron Stadium on Friday night provided a better experience for the Rome High football players than the last time they did so.
A two-week break between games that began with a loss to Marietta in the Corky Kell Classic ended with an offensively explosive effort by Rome as the Wolves rolled to a 63-6 win over visiting North Clayton in their second game of the season.
The home team put up 370 yards of offense against the Eagles, most of which came in the first half, and held a 49-0 lead at halftime. Five different Rome players scored touchdowns — all coming on the ground — and North Clayton had just two first downs in the first half.
Quarterback Caleb Ellard kicked off the evening by scoring on a 49-yard keeper on the second play of the game and his teammates followed in kind.
Trey Lawrence scored three touchdowns on only 44 yards, while EJ Burks had 11 carries for 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Ahijah Blackwell scored on a 7-yard run and Nick Burge scored on a 14-yard run in the first quarter as Rome took a 28-0 lead. Burks entered the game midway through the second quarter and tacked on two more touchdowns before halftime.
The majority of Rome’s running success came as the Wolves pushed their way between the tackles and ran up the middle of the North Clayton defense.
“I think that is something we’re known for, and we’ve got a good offensive line, so it’s something we should be doing,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “I think we did it some against Marietta, and it was one of the better things we were able to do. But we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to run a little harder. We’ve got to play a good region game next week. It’s going to be a big one.”
Rome (1-1) opens its Region 7-5A schedule next Friday by hosting Kell. The Longhorns defeated Lassiter 27-0 on Friday night and are 2-0.
After a near flawless first quarter, the Wolves had a couple of setbacks in the second period, including a lost fumble and a couple of untimely penalties, one of which negated a Blackwell touchdown run.
While they recovered to put up 21 points in the period, it showed Reid that, like most teams in their second game of the season, they still have some things to work out.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of kids who are still learning the game,” Reid said. “I thought we had times where we played a clean game and other times where we looked kind of clumsy. And that’s not going to get it done in our region.”
The Wolves’ defense held North Clayton (0-3) to negative rushing yardage in the first half and only 38 yards passing. The Eagles’ lone score came in the third quarter during a running clock in the second half as Courtney Colbert hit Onuma Dieke down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion failed.
Rome kicker Alonzo Rodriguez had a solid night as he went 7-for-7 on extra points and had touchbacks on nine kickoffs. Tim Jones Jr. intercepted a pass by Colbert on third-and-1 with 5:13 left in the second quarter. Burks would get the ball three times on the ensuing drive, the last one going for 17 yards into the end zone.
Reid said they are using several running backs to see how they react in game situations as part of the evaluation process.
“I think we’re looking for one to really show out and shine and become the guy. And that competition is going to be interesting. You’re going to have to come to practice ready to go. That’s the way it is with a lot of positions,” Reid said.