’Hounds hounded by gaffes
by Carlton D. White
November 18, 2012 01:18 AM | 3882 views | 7 7 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ronald Woods carries the ball for Pope in Saturday’s first-round playoff game against Stephenson. Turnovers proved to be the Achilles’ heel for the Greyhounds in defeat.
<Br>Staff photo by Emily Barnes
Ronald Woods carries the ball for Pope in Saturday’s first-round playoff game against Stephenson. Turnovers proved to be the Achilles’ heel for the Greyhounds in defeat.
Staff photo by Emily Barnes
CLARKSTON — Stephenson scored 14 points off four fourth-quarter turnovers and pulled away for a 31-11 win over Pope in a first-round Class AAAAA state playoff game Saturday at Hallford Stadium.

The Greyhounds (7-4) trailed by six with 9:47 remaining in the game after Wisdom Nzidee nailed a 32-yard field goal to put the Jaguars (8-2) in front 17-11.

Pope, the No. 3 seed from Region 7AAAAA, fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff return, Stephenson recovered, and that led to a 21-yard touchdown run from Evan Jones for a 13-point margin.

Another fumble on the second play of the Greyhounds’ next possession didn’t lead to points for the Jaguars, but the Region 6AAAAA runner-up did manage to run 2 minutes off the clock and nursed its lead before settling on a punt.

On Pope’s next drive, Khalil Ladler intercepted Stephen Skruck’s pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown, sealing the victory for Stephenson with a little less than 4 minutes left.

Sam Yarborough was also intercepted on the Greyhounds’ final drive of the game, and Stephenson picked up two first downs over the final 2:39 to run out the clock and earn the victory.

Stephenson will next travel to East Paulding in the second round.

“Against a good football team like that, you have to be perfect,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “The turnovers were the difference. Our goal was to get it into the fourth quarter and try to make it interesting. We turned the football over and it seemed like they had 14 points in a matter of 10 seconds.

“The unfortunate part is that 31-11 makes it look like it was a blowout, but it was anything but a blowout. It was a battle. For our football team to play a football team like that — and it was only 14-11 going into the fourth quarter — that is a tribute to how hard our kids played and how much heart they played with. (Stephenson has) more athletes on the kickoff team than we have in our whole school, but our guys came out and played with a lot of passion and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Pope took a three-point lead when Marshall Hansen converted a 24-yard field goal with 8:33 left in the half.

A 38-yard completion from Justin Holman to Saddiq Green set up Jahmal Daniels for a 7-yard touchdown run that put Stephenson in front 7-3 with 6:52 left until halftime.

After the break, Ryan Hanley intercepted Holman on the second play of the second half, but the Greyhounds couldn’t capitalize.

Stephenson answered with a heavy dose of Jones, who carried the ball six times for 71 yards on a drive that culminated with his 6-yard scoring run at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter.

Jones finished the night with 20 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

An 18-yard run from Skruck, and a 19-yard completion to Mason Shiflett, led to Ronald Woods’ 6-yard touchdown run. Skruck’s 2-point conversion completion to Logan Carr brought Pope to within three with just less than 3 minutes remaining in the third.

Woods rushed 17 times for 65 yards and a score, while Skruck was 5-for-13 for 58 yards and an interception. Skruck also carried the ball seven times for 52, while Shiflett had three catches for 49 yards.

Holman was 11-for-17 for 145 yards for Stephenson. Bernard Barnes caught three passes for 55 yards.

“If it wouldn’t have been for the turnovers, I think this game would have come down to the last series,” Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. “We were fortunate enough to get a couple of turnovers and turn them into points, and that broke the game open for us in the end.”
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November 19, 2012
My nephew is on the Pope team, and I watch the games from afar. Congratulations on a hard fought season. Looking forward to next year.
November 19, 2012
@Pope Fan and ghound -

Really??? Who is better to coach than Kemper? He has an undersized team and less athletic than many of the other teams and is winning 6, 7 and 8 games a year....what more do you people want?

Truly amazes me that the parents that make the most noise don't know the first thing about the game. Oh well they think that they do because they watch the Falcons and their DAWGS on Saturday. Please run the man off and he will have 10 offers within the first hour.

You parents at Pope are amazing. Your team was homegrown as well. You did not go out and create an all star team much like Lassiter and Walton do but it is never good enough....Ashamed of the Pope parents to question the coaching staff like this after taking Stephenson to the wire...If you are this upset than leave
Sam B
November 18, 2012
Great year Coach. You will never please the Pope fans no matter how many wins. Proud to have Coach kemper at Pope even with all the coaching talent in the stands.
Hound Alum
November 18, 2012
I love how everyone is a Monday morning QB...proud of my program and proud to see that they didn't get embarrassed...we were not expecting much this year with the loss of Frost...the Pope program is in good hands and the parents just need to be quiet...this is a program that went 4 & 6 with TJ Yates at QB....quit complaining about your coaching!!!!
November 18, 2012
Pope played with heart in this game. Players deserved a better outcome. Play calling so conservative all year long and in this game. Still running zone read plays down two scores. Seven minutes to go, down 13, and the substitutions start again. It's like we gave up. Tired of hearing about "athletes" on other side as well. Pope has athletes too. We need to use them better. Incredibly frustrated....
Pope Fan
November 18, 2012
Well summarized…. I believe you speak for many Pope fans and families. When kids see their coaches give up, it’s not building a program to be proud of. Also, the “more athletes” comment can only be used so many times – before people begin to question whether it’s just an excuse. Maybe Pope FOOTBALL shouldn’t compete in the playoffs unless they are guaranteed a win!
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