DALTON, Ga. — Christian Heritage's football season came to an end in the second round of the GHSA Class A private school playoffs Friday night, when the visiting Wesleyan Wolves overcame rain and fog to win 34-13 and secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Wolves' offensive spread attack gashed coach Jay Poag's Lions (9-2) with cold efficiency via conservative play calling from head coach Franklin Pidgen.
"We stressed ball security with the misty night and slick turf, so we needed to take care of the football and be deliberate with our receptions and carries," Pidgen said. "It was important to take advantage of every opportunity we got on offense."
During a scoreless first quarter, Wesleyan (10-2) got its first opportunity after Christian Heritage moved the ball to the Wolves' 2-yard line but was stopped on fourth down. Fourteen plays later, Wolves quarterback J.C. French kept the ball on a run-pass option for a 6-yard touchdown.
On the next Wesleyan possession, a Gage Leonard interception gave Christian Heritage the ball back. Five plays later, Leonard scored a 1-yard touchdown on a sweep, but the Lions failed to tie on a botched hold during the extra-point attempt to leave the score at 7-6.
The Wolves answered with two more quick scores in less than two minutes. Their second touchdown came off a read-option keeper via French from 4 yards out, and their third from an 11-yard pass from French to Cooper Blauser to take a 21-6 lead into halftime.
With Christian Heritage down and in need of points in the second half, the Wesleyan defense shored up and found three key stops in fourth-down situations to help secure the victory. Wolves running back Griffin Caldwell had a touchdown in the third quarter, and kickers Javy Martinez and Brooks Sturgeon each notched a 27-yard field goal in the fourth.
"I felt the key was adjusting to their speed in the rushing game," Pidgen said. "They had us on our heels early with the long drive, but things changed when we began to get stops. Our offense took advantage of nearly every opportunity given, and we'll need to do the same going forwards."
Christian Heritage, which had a bye last week as the No. 8 seed for the bracket, still set a program record for single-season wins.
Wesleyan moves on to face 16th-seeded Savannah Christian, which upset top-seeded Savannah Country Day 35-14 on Friday.
Contact Justin Dempsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.