Wesleyan 17, Miller County 0

COLQUITT - Miller County quarterback Trez Morgan appeared to show as much disbelief as disappointment.

While Wesleyan's football team huddled near Pirates Stadium's midfield Friday night, celebrating a milestone in the program's 10-year history after the Wolves' 17-0 Class A quarterfinal win, the far-away look in Morgan's eyes said it all.

"Man, I don't really know what happened," he said. "It seemed we didn't come out with our 'A' game."

The Pirates, who were Region 1-A champions and reached their first state quarterfinals since 2000, finished with an 11-2 record.

"It was a great season, a great ride," Pirates coach Frank Killingsworth said. "There is nothing to be ashamed about. We did a great job and won a lot of football games. We made it to the final eight and lost to a very good football team. I give all the credit to coach (Franklin) Pridgen over there and his team. They did a great job."

The Wolves, meanwhile, improved to 11-2 and advanced to play Lincoln County in next weekend's semifinals. Lincoln County beat Wilcox County, 27-12.

"We've never done this before," Pridgen said. "This is new territory. But you know what? I'm not really surprised. Given how we've performed over the past 10 weeks, given our senior leadership and given the fantastic coaching job the whole staff did. We're just thrilled."

Making the big play, regardless of which side of the ball they were on, had been the Pirates' postseason theme. On Friday night, however, it was Wesleyan making the play when it had to.

The Wolves halted Miller County's best scoring opportunity, scored three field goals of their own by kicker Spencer Short and had enough balance on offense to move the ball efficiently.

Whether it was running back Kyle Karempelis pounding his way through the line or quarterback Conor Welton finding one of his eight receivers, Wesleyan was simply too much.

Too resilient.

Too good.

Karempelis rushed for 136 yards and Welton passed for 144, and it was only fitting that Welton's 9-yard touchdown pass was caught by none other than Karempelis to give the Wolves a 12-0 lead in the third quarter. A two-point pass from Welton to Lee Ellis made it 14-0.

The Wolves' final points were scored with 5:16 left in the game on a 36-yarder by Short. He made field goals of 20 and 21 yards during the first half.

"He's very valuable," Welton said of Short. "Whenever we get down there and are unable to put it in the end zone, we know we can get three points."

The Pirates' running game never was in sync. Shawndre Sheffield, the team's top rusher, was held to only 28 yards rushing.

After a scoreless first quarter, Short's first two field goals gave the Wolves a 6-0 halftime lead.

Then, the Wolves drove downfield for their touchdown and two-point conversion to have an even tighter grip on their semifinal chances.

The relatively new football program finished off a statement win, announcing that it has arrived among the state's prep football elite.

"We're going to enjoy it," Pridgen said. "I think we worked for this. I think we deserve to be here."