By Jeff Haws
For the AJC
If there’s one truism about football, it’s this – without the ball in your hands, you can’t score.
St. Pius scored three touchdowns before Grady ran its second offensive play Friday, turning a battle of unbeatens into an early rout during a 49-16 win.
In a season when the Class AAA No. 2 Lions ran out to a 7-0 record, outscoring their opponents by an average of 35 points per game, this was supposed to be the big test to see just how good they were.
On this night, though, No. 7 Grady (7-1, 4-1 in Region 5-AAA) wasn’t up to the challenge, allowing the Lions to gain 387 rushing yards, along with the inside track for the region’s No. 1 seed.
St. Pius (8-0, 5-0) marched 62 yards for a touchdown on its first drive, then recovered a short ensuing kickoff to take the ball back on the Grady 38-yard line.
Four minutes later, the Lions were in the end zone again on a Ryan Braswell run, posting a 14-0 lead.
The offense wouldn’t have much time to rest, though. On the Grey Knights’ first play from scrimmage, they fumbled the ball back to St. Pius on their own 35.
Five plays later, quarterback T.J. Holloman – subbing for injured starter Trey White – scampered in from 18 yards to put the Lions up 21-0 with 57.4 seconds left in the first quarter.
At that point, St. Pius had run 20 plays – all runs – for 145 yards, while Grady had only run one for zero yards and a turnover. That resulted in a three-touchdown hole the Knights could never dig out of.
Grady got its shot at getting back into the game when the Lions muffed a punt back to the Knights at the St. Pius 47.
When that drive stalled inside the St. Pius 10, though, the Knights had to settle for a 23-yard field goal. And that was little consolation when the Lions again went straight down the field to go up 28-3 with less than a minute to go in the first half, effectively putting the game away.
St. Pius had four players gain 65 or more rushing yards, the vast majority of those coming during the first three quarters before coach Paul Standard pulled most of his starters from the game.
Holloman led the way with 109 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries. Ryan Braswell (102 yards), Geno Smith (68) and Jake DeLany (65) all posted good numbers for the Lions.
The Lions’ 49 points tied for the most Grady has allowed in a game since Nov. 22, 2002, when the Knights lost to Greater Atlanta Christian 52-48 in the first round of the playoffs.
S 21 7 14 7 – 49
G 0 3 7 6 – 16
S – Trey Holloman 1 run (Thomas O’Leary kick)
S – Ryan Braswell 1 run (O’Leary kick)
S – Holloman 18 run (O’Leary kick)
G – Dorian Greene 23 FG
S – Geno Smith 4 run (O’Leary kick)
S – Holloman 27 run (O’Leary kick)
S – Holloman 10 run (O’Leary kick)
G – Darren Dowdell 8 pass from Kevin Taylor (kick missed)
S – Nick Ruffin 2 run (O’Leary kick)