Etowah (3-0) escaped for a quick 22-0 lead, ran for 307 yards on the night and scored on offense, defense and special teams in their final non-region tuneup before 5AAAAAA play begins next week at Wheeler.
The win also avenged the Eagles’ overtime loss in last year’s meeting.
“I was happy with how we played all-around (Friday), but what I liked best was that we only let a pretty good offensive team score one touchdown,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla said. “We’ll need that kind of effort next week on defense against all of (Wheeler’s) athletes.”
The Eagle defense recovered two fumbles, sacked Pope quarterback Taylor Wolf a half-dozen times and intercepted two passes — including a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ben Rowell in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Engle set the tone from the outset, returning the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. He also scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter and finished his night with 95 yards rushing on just eight carries.
Raishod Devezin added 111 yards on the ground, and quarterback John Oliver found Rowell for an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
As the Eagles’ offense operated like a model of efficiency, the Greyhounds’ attack seemed to be its own worst enemy.
Stalling out inside the 5 on its opening drive, Pope saw a bad snap thwart its first red-zone attack. A fumble inside the 10 ended another second-quarter march, and Etowah defensive back Noah Dye picked off Wolf deep in Eagle territory to halt another.
“(Etowah was) a big, powerful football team, so we tried to make it a track meet. We moved the ball well between the 20s but kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “We can’t fault the effort of our guys, because our kids played hard. We were just a little outmanned (Friday).”
Wolf completed 19 of 32 passes for 194 yards through the air. Logan Carr scored the Greyhounds’ only touchdown late in the second quarter on a 6-yard pass from Wolf.
Pope (0-3) will host Northview next Friday in a 7AAAAA crossover game, looking to reverse the fortunes that have seen it outscored 112-34.
“The meat-grinder of our schedule is over now,” said Kemper, whose team took on a trio of Class AAAAAA schools to open the season. “We knew the start would be tough coming in, and we’re a little beat-up because of it, but it will be nice to play someone our size again next week.”