A loss to Alexander in Friday’s Region 5AAAA play-in game would have ended Pope’s season, regardless of the success it had this season. Instead, the Greyhounds took care of business by jumping on Alexander early and preserving a lead before winning 49-28 at the Pope Multi-Sport Complex.
The victory gave Pope (9-1) a nine-win regular season for the first time in team history, and clinched the program its first region championship since 2000. The Greyhounds will host Mays, the No. 4 seed from Region 6AAAA, in next Friday’s first-round game.
“I feel like we’re on top of the world right now,” said tailback Brooks Climmons, who rushed for 121 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. “It was really a team effort all the way around, from O-line to D-line. We also have an amazing quarterback and receiving crew, and coach (Matt) Kemper calling the right plays.”
The Greyhounds stayed ahead of Alexander (4-6) by accumulating 474 total yards. Quarterback Holland Frost chipped in with 142 rushing yards and two touchdowns, plus 103 passing yards and another two scores. Myles Everett had 73 receiving yards on five grabs and two touchdowns, while backup quarterback Stephen Skruck also added a score.
Pope scored twice in the first quarter to take command.
The Greyhounds scored on a three-play opening drive, with Climmons barreling in from 10 yards out. Pope added another score late in the first quarter on a 24-yard strike from Frost to Everett before taking a 21-0 lead early in the second on a 1-yard score by Climmons.
“We finally came out of the gates and jumped out early,” Kemper said. “(Alexander is) a dangerous football team. It’s hard in a situation like that to not look toward the end, and I was very proud of our guys.”
The three-touchdown lead Pope built early in the second quarter proved pivotal as Alexander quarterback Dempsey Abernathy began to heat up. The Cougars answered on a 13-play drive, with Abernathy completing seven of nine passes. The drive culminated in a 15-yard touchdown pass to Allen Igwebuike.
Even with a 21-7 halftime lead, Alexander was still in striking range, which meant the Greyhounds needed a strong second half to keep a safe lead.
And Pope did just that. After holding Alexander to three-and-out on its first second-half possession, the Greyhounds marched down the field and scored on a 27-yard strike from Frost to Everett. Another defensive stop by the Greyhounds led to a 12-yard touchdown run by Frost for a 35-7 lead.
After Alexander struck back with a touchdown drive late in the third quarter, Pope secured the lead early in the fourth on another touchdown run by Frost, this one from 17 yards out.