WASHINGTON, Ga. – What looked like a mismatch on paper turned out to be just that on the field.
Undefeated Washington-Wilkes steamrolled two-win Wesleyan 46-14 on Friday night at Tiger Stadium in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Quarterback DeAndre Harris rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two more as Washington-Wilkes scored on all six of its possessions in the first three quarters to open a 40-7 lead. Javoris Grant rushed 13 times for 142 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s all about advancing at this point and we did our job,” coach Robby Robinson said as his team is set to play host to Bowdon next Friday. The Tigers (11-0) beat Bowdon 48-7 in the first round last year.
Despite its 2-8 record in one of Class AA’s toughest regions, Wesleyan’s offense proved to be competitive at the start. And the Tiger defense looked a little vulnerable without star linebacker Tomarkus Young, who dislocated his hip two weeks ago.
Wesleyan – which utilized a bye last week to scout Washington-Wilkes – went on an efficient, 71-yard march on its second possession, hitting on a series of short passes before Drew Aspinwall found Harrison Cook open in the left flat. Cook fought across the goal line for the 15-yard score to make it 7-7 with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
But the Washington-Wilkes defense stiffened after that and the Tiger offense proved unstoppable, scoring touchdowns on all four first-half possessions to open a 27-7 lead.
Harris opened the scoring with a 2-yard keeper and added two passing touchdowns of 28 and 33 yards in the second quarter for Washington-Wilkes. Both passes were screens in which receivers Tyrique Pender and Devarious Smith spun out of trouble and outraced the Wolves secondary.
Wesleyan tried to make it closer before the half, but a 14-play drive culminated in a missed 31-yard field goal.
It was more of the same in the second half as rushing touchdowns by Harris, Deotre Milton and Bradley Jefferson salted the game away before Wesleyan added a final score in the closing minutes.
The Wolves gained only 32 yards rushing, but piled up 252 yards on 47 passing attempts.
“We shut down their running game but we didn’t quite shut down their passing game,” Robinson said. “They gave us a good challenge. We knew they were a better ballclub than their record showed because of the region they play in. They’ve got to compete with Lovett, GAC and Westminster.”
Wesleyan coach Franklin Pridgen riled up the Tigers with comments earlier in the week that his team wouldn’t face anyone tougher than the three teams in Region 6-AA.
“It really sends a message,” Harris said of the blowout. “Wesleyan was saying we’re not as good as Lovett and all them and we’re about to shock them.”
Six different Tigers scored Friday as Washington-Wilkes finished with 260 yards rushing and 186 more passing.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who touch the ball on Friday night and our quarterback DeAndre does a great job of dispersing the ball and making sure it gets where it needs to go,” Robinson said.
Young walked to the sideline for the opening coin toss and has suggested that he might be available to play if the Tigers advance to the third round.
“According to him there’s a chance and young guys heal quickly,” Robinson said of his star linebacker. “We definitely miss him.”