The Rome Wolves faced a major test coming out of a bye week against Class AAAAAAA-power Cherokee and passed with flying colors as the Wolves overpowered the visiting Warriors 27-7 Friday at Barron Stadium.

Rome moves to 2-0 to kick off 2021.

“I thought we played well, especially on defense,” Wolves head coach John Reid said. “It’s early in the season. We’ve got young kids, we played a game and then had two weeks off, so we’ve still got to get some rhythm offensively.”

Junior tailback Darius Smith recorded two rushing scores while freshman Cameron Fleminster chipped in the other as Rome’s ground attack outpaced Cherokee 180-31.

“I thought we had some good running backs and the run game is based on the (offensive) line,” Reid said. “Darius showed some power (tonight).”

Cherokee (2-1), one of the top-ranked teams in Georgia, looked out of sync for majority of the night, as senior quarterback AJ Swann found himself under duress and scrambling multiple times.

After Fleminster’s first-career varsity touchdown stretched Rome’s edge to 17-0 late in the first half, Cherokee was desperate for a response and found one as Caleb Richardson weaved his way 71 yards on a pass from Swann to cut the lead to 17-7 with 71 seconds to go until halftime.

Aside from that one play, the Wolves’ defense kept the Warriors in check throughout Friday’s affair, led by a stout defensive front.

Martel Hight’s presence on special teams, particularly on punt returns, gave the Wolves great field position throughout the 48 minutes, but Rome’s offense would struggle for consistency in spots.

“Get some games and experience under our belt,” Reid said. “It’s tough. It’s a lot to get out there and you got sophomore receivers, sophomore quarterback, so they’re going to have to get some game experience and they’re getting it now against a great opponent.”

Rome kicker Gary Gonzalez notched his first two field goals of the year, a 35-yarder in the first half and a 27-yard conversion in the second half.

The Wolves remain in the den and prepare to face the 2020 Class AAAAAAA state runner-up Collins Hill Eagles next Friday.

“That’s going to be a big game next week,” Reid said.

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