HIRAM — When it was broken down Friday night, it didn’t matter if Rome was using its running backs, its quarterback or even one of its wide receivers.
The Wolves intended to run the ball down Hiram’s throats, and there was not much the home team could do about it.
Rome finished with 299 rushing yards behind a strong offensive line as it picked up steam in the second quarter and rolled to a 42-13 win in a Region 7-5A battle in Paulding County. Still undefeated, the Wolves have now scored 40 points or more in five consecutive games.
“They weren’t stopping the run, so I think we just stayed with it,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “Hiram came in with a good gameplan, but I think our kids adapted very well. We continued to adjust as the game went along.”
Junior running back Jamious Griffin finished with 77 total yards and four rushing touchdowns, while quarterback Knox Kadum had 174 total yards and a passing touchdown.
Running back Marquez Kirby tallied 74 rushing yards and fellow senior Jalynn Sykes recorded 73 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Rome (6-0, 4-0 7-5A) wasted no time, marching 52 yards on its first drive and finishing with Griffin scoring on a 1-yard sprint from a direct snap.
A few minutes later, the Wolves moved 65 yards down the field with Griffin punching it in again for a 3-yard score.
Hiram cut the lead to 14-7 entering the second quarter, but Rome’s offensive attack didn’t waver. Receiver Jordan Watkins wowed the crowd with a 52-yard touchdown reception off a screen pass, and Sykes scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the first half to go up 28-7.
The Wolves only threw the ball 12 times all game, and might’ve gotten the win without throwing the ball at all.
“We just have a lot of talent out there in the backfield,” Griffin said. “It takes some pressure off all the backs when we are all contributing like this. It’s just fun knowing anybody can contribute.”
The Rome defense had a bit of trouble stopping quarterback Nathan Presnell and the rest of the Hornets (2-5, 1-4) in the first half. The junior quarterback appeared composed early against Rome’s pass rush as he finished 17-of-21 for 212 yards.
Hiram scored its only touchdown of the first half on a Marcel Murray 10-yard run with 23 seconds left in the first to cut Rome’s lead to 14-7. The Hornets got inside Rome’s 40-yard line twice more, but the Wolves’ defense forced a pair of turnovers on downs.
And like almost every game this season, Rome’s coaches made halftime adjustments on defense that shut down the Hiram attack.
“In the first half we were playing too loose in the secondary, giving too much cushion,” Reid said. “They got the ball out quick and were protecting the quarterback well, and I think we had to prepare ourselves for that passing game.”
The defense forced a fumble to begin the second half, and Griffin scored on a 13-yard run the very next play. A short Hiram drive gave the Wolves the ball back, with Griffin scoring for the final time in the game on a 3-yard score.
The fourth quarter featured a running clock for nearly the entire quarter, as Hiram scored on a Presnell 10-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.
Rome hosts Cass for its annual homecoming game next Friday at Barron Stadium.