0

Wesleyan 49, Athens Christian 6

NORCROSS - Wesleyan will go into the Class A state playoffs with seven consecutive victories. One more and the Wolves will have a school-record winning streak and their first postseason victory since 2003.

The Region 8-A champions finished the regular season with a 49-6 rout of Athens Christian on Friday night at Henderson Stadium and get a week off before opening the state playoffs.

"We need it," Wesleyan coach Franklin Pridgen said of the break. "We're exhausted after playing 10 straight weeks. This will give us time to recoup our energy and heal up."

"We're on a streak, but I don't think it will hurt our momentum," said senior lineman Andrew Patrick, one of Wesleyan's many two-way starters.

"I think it will work to our advantage to have the week off."

Wesleyan, which went 6-0 in the region and 8-2 overall during the regular season, will host the No. 4 team from Region 7-A in the first round on Nov. 14.

It was senior night for Wesleyan against Athens Christian (3-6, 1-4), but a sophomore was the offensive standout. Kyle Karempelis, playing only the first half, gained 146 yards on 18 carries and scored four touchdowns. One of the TD runs was 53 yards and he has 18 rushing touchdowns for the season.

Although the game started as if someone was pulling a Halloween prank on Wesleyan, it turned out that it was Athens Christian which was tricked into thinking it had a chance against the Wolves.

Chaz Sheets appeared to be stopped on the opening kickoff, but the whistle never blew and the Athens Christian junior broke away from the pile to complete a stunning 92-yard touchdown run.

It was all Wesleyan after that, however.

"We got a wakeup call," Pridgen said. "It looked like we were asleep there at the start."

Karempelis scored from 14 yards out to complete a 73-yard drive on the Wolves' first possession and when Spencer Short kicked his first of seven extra points Wesleyan led for good.

Athens Academy lost three fumbles in the first half and the Wolves took advantage to lead 42-6 at halftime. Patrick, Jimmy Dougal and Bobby Fulton had the recoveries, each setting up a score.

Drew Carroll banged in from the 1-yard line in the first quarter and Conor Welton scored on a quarterback sneak to start a second-quarter flurry of four touchdowns in less than five minutes.

Karempelis started the spree with his 53-yard run on a play in which he had no hole, but bounced to the outside and sprinted away. His next two touchdowns came easier, on runs of 2 and 4 yards.

Reserves played most of the second half for Wesleyan, with the only touchdown coming on a 10-yard run by freshman Zander Yost in the third quarter.

Devin Stanton intercepted a pass for Wesleyan in the fourth quarter, but the Wolves took a knee at the Athens Christian 14-yard line to end the game. A touchdown would have given the Wolves a school record for points in a game. Wesleyan scored 53 against Cross Keys last season.