Wheeler 59, Pope 20

Wheeler had almost all of the offense but only a 13-point lead in the first half of its non-region game at Pope on Friday.

Then the Wildcats got all the points in the second half and cruised to a 59-20 victory.

Two weeks after building an early 34-point lead in a 44-14 season-opening victory against Sprayberry, the Wildcats amassed 33 points and 404 yards of total offense in the first half against Pope.

Wheeler led 33-20 entering the third quarter but outscored the Greyhounds 26-0, leading to a running clock in the fourth quarter.

Devontae Jackson and Billy Polakowski scored on short runs, Antoneo West returned a fumble 2 yards for a touchdown and Victor Alves kicked a 42-yard field goal as the Wildcats pulled away.

Wildcats quarterback Elijah Staley finished with 277 yards and three touchdowns passing and rushed for 86 yards and two scores in less than three quarters. His two scoring runs late in the first half helped Wheeler (2-0) remain comfortably in front after the Greyhounds had twice cut the lead to a touchdown.

Jackson finished with 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Wheeler’s Jacobi Green had eight receptions for 85 yards, and Harland Howell had three catches for 89 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown catch on the fifth play of the game to give Wheeler the lead for good.

The Wildcats finished with a 528-150 advantage in total offense.

It was the second consecutive blowout loss against a Class AAAAAA school for Pope (0-2), which lost to Marietta 63-13 last week. The Greyhounds stayed close early this week, however, by taking advantage of a couple of Wheeler mistakes. Pope stopped Wheeler on a fake punt midway through the second quarter and then scored on the next play, a 44-yard pass from Taylor Wolf to a wide-open Carson Day to cut the lead to 20-13.

Pope defensive lineman Matthew Jones set up another touchdown when he returned an interception 30 yards to the Wheeler 6. Logan Carr took it in on the next play to cut Wheeler’s lead to 27-20 with 1:37 remaining in the first half.

But Staley had the answer again, driving the Wildcats 65 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 6-yard run with 15 seconds left in the half.

Wheeler – 20-13-26-0 – 59

Pope – 7-13-0-0 – 20

W – Harland Howell 67 pass from Elijah Staley (Victor Alves kick)

W – Jesse Kearse 35 pass from Staley (Alves kick)

P – Logan Carr 15 pass from Taylor Wolf (Marshall Hansen kick)

W – Devontae Jackson 19 run (kick failed)

P – Carson Day 44 pass from Wolf (kick blocked)

W – Staley 46 run (Alves kick)

P – Carr 6 run (Hansen kick)

W – Staley 6 run (kick failed)

W – Jackson 9 run (Mohammed Yoonis pass from Ryles Kirkland)

W – Alves 42 field goal

W – Billy Polakowski 8 run (Alves kick)

W – Antoneo West 2 fumble return (Kirkland run)

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