Rome, Buford give no ground; two ranked teams lose
Rome quarterback Knox Kadum. (Photo courtesy Rome High School.)
The two top-ranked teams in the state showed off a little on Friday, with No. 1 Rome and No. 2 Buford both posting impressive wins. From all indications based on the first two weeks, those two dynamos aren’t going anywhere.
Rome took down Harrison, the No. 2-ranked team in Class AAAAAA, 33-21. Buford beat highly regarded Melbourne (Fla.) Central Catholic, 34-17.
The other Power Five members of Class AAAAA did not play on Friday. No. 3 Carrollton was idle, No. 4 Stockbridge played Mays on Saturday, and No. 5 Kell was off.
Here’s what we learned about some of ranked teams on Friday:
Rome: Defense was at the heart of their win over Harrison. The Wolves converted a pair of turnovers into touchdowns and limited Hoyas’ quarterback Justin Fields to 311 yards of total offense. Adam Anderson had two sacks and JaQuon Griffin picked up a fumble and returned it 32 yards for a score. Quarterback Knox Kadum completed 9 of 14 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns, both to Xavier Roberts, who caught five balls for 96 yards. Griffin rushed 18 times for 93 yards.
“Defensively I thought we played good enough,” Rome coach John Reid said afterwards. “I think the scoop-and-score was huge and we won the turnover battle. We played decent on special teams and we had just enough offense. I think all that together creates a win.”
Buford: The one-two punch of running back Christian Turner (Michigan commit) and Anthony Grant (Tennessee commit) is hard to beat. They combined for 221 yards rushing. Turner scored on an 81-yard run, as well as a 27-yard pass from freshman Aaron McLaughlin, who was 9-for-19. Grant scored on a 3-yard run and returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown. Derrian Brown, who would start and and star for many schools, added a 17-yard touchdown run. But Buford had a punt blocked for a late touchdown.
Thomas County Central: The No. 8 Yellow Jackets were thumped 41-7 by rival Class AA No. 7 Thomasville, which earned the 700th win of the program’s illustrious history. Thomas County was beset by turnovers, including one interception and two fumbles that were recovered and returned for long touchdowns.
Ware County: The No. 6 Gators were beaten by rival Glynn Academy 31-7 thanks to a spate of turnovers. The bright spot was quarterback Jeremiah O’Hara, who rushed for 120 yards and completed 7 of 8 passes for 69 yards. Ware County has now lost four straight games to Glynn.
Warner Robins: The No. 7 Demons followed up their opening-night rout of Northside with a 20-3 win over Locust Grove, avenging last year’s loss. Defense set the tone. Warner Robins had a safety and an interception in the opening five minutes. Coach Mike Chastain told the Macon Telegraph, “Sloppy game all around on both sides of the ball, but we’re 2-0. It’s a ‘W.’ That’s what means the most.”
Griffin: The No. 10 Bears were pleased to break in new quarterback Avious Nelson, who threw three touchdown passes in a 36-7 win over rival Spalding. Nelson connected for scores of 9, 13 and 80 yards and improved to 9-1 against Spalding.