With the win, Lassiter (8-0, 5-0) is in command of 5AAAAAA with only Roswell and Etowah left to play and could secure the region title with a win over Roswell next week.
Quarterback Eddie Printz threw for 274 yards for Lassiter and connected with Willie Police for three touchdowns in the first half. Police ended up with 105 yards on nine receptions.
“Lassiter is a big-play team and Willie Police is a great player who can make great plays,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Lassiter (8-0, 5-0) built a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. It started when Printz threw a screen pass to Police that turned into a 41-yard touchdown run to put the Trojans on the board and would hit Duby Nwaubi on a 38-yard strike down the left sideline two drives later.
Lassiter would score again late in the first quarter when Hakim Shahid bullied his way in from one-yard out and was up 28-0 early in the second when Wheeler (4-4, 1-4) committed its second turnover of the game. Five plays later, the Trojans faked a handoff and hit a wide-open Police in the end zone for a 22-yard pass.
“We played really well in the first quarter offensively,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “I was very pleased with our offense. I also have to give credit to Wheeler. We tried to knock them out and they fought their way back.”
Wheeler to claw its way back into the game in the second quarter by making adjustments offensively after the first quarter. The Wildcats cut down on throwing the ball and stuck to its inside running game behind Devontae Jackson and Kyonte Maxwell. Jackson led the ground game with 96 yards on 16 carries.
Jackson and Maxwell alternated touches on Wheeler’s first scoring drive early in the second quarter and found the end zone for the first time when Elijah Staley hit Harlan Howell for a 15-yarder at the right corner.
Then the Wildcats threw Lassiter off-guard when kicker J.D. Barron recovered his own onside kick and Wheeler scored again when Staley connected to Jackson on a 15-yard screen pass.
Wheeler’s second unanswered touchdown ended up being a wakeup call to Lassiter. The Trojans drove the length of the field and scored again on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Printz to Police.
Then Lassiter got a little careless in the second half and was unable to put Wheeler away until the fourth quarter when Luke Hardin kicked a 37-yard field goal with 7:12 left in the game.
After committing just one penalty in the first half, Lassiter committed seven in the second with six costing them 15 yards. Lassiter also had a chance to pull away in the third quarter when Wheeler lost a fumble on a snap deep in its own territory but Lassiter’s short drive ended with a Printz interception to Allen Artis in the end zone.
“I’m proud to be 8-0 and happy with the win,” Irwin said. “We’re going to have to play better, starting next week.”