ROME — Rome turned the tables on Habersham Central Friday night in the two teams’ Class 6A first-round playoff game.
The Raiders came in riding a defense that had forced nine turnovers in its last two games. Instead, the Wolves forced four Habersham miscues en route to taking a 35-14 win to end the Raiders playoffs.
The vaunted Habersham ground game was potent as ever piling up 286 yards behind Joshua Pickett (26-181 yards, 2 TDs) and Jackson Clouatre (16-105 yards) but two Pickett interceptions and a pair of fumbles snuffed potential scoring threats.
Meanwhile, the Raiders' defense was not to create any turnovers for the first time in a month and a balanced Rome attack eventually wore them down. But the Raiders were in striking distance most of the way.
Rome took a quick lead when EJ Lackey scored on the opening play of the game on a 68-yard touchdown run. But the Raiders answered later in the period when Pickett scored from 12-yards out to tie the game at 7.
The Wolves took the lead for good with just seconds left in the first quarter on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Reece Fountain to DK Daniel for a 14-7 lead. Rome pushed its lead to 21-7 by halftime on a 2-yard run by Lackey.
It stayed that way until early in the fourth quarter when Pickett broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 21-14 with just 8:18 left in the game.
But Fountain tossed another 59-yard TD pass, this time to Martel Hight, with just over 5 minutes left and Lackey scored his third TD of the game with 2:35 left to seal it for the Wolves.
The Habersham offense struggled in short-yardage converting just 4-of-13 on third and fourth downs.