NORCROSS - Senior Carter Garrison didn't actually put any points on the board, but the linebacker's performance in the early going set the tone for Wesleyan's 52-6 homecoming win over Social Circle.
Garrison intercepted a pass to set up Wesleyan's first touchdown and recovered a fumble to set up the second one. Throw in a couple of hurries and a bone-crunching sack and Garrison was responsible for setting the pace on defense and getting a little revenge on the last regular-season opponent to score more than seven points against the No. 1-ranked Wolves (6-0, 2-0).
"It's homecoming. It's an exciting time," Garrison said. "I had a couple opportunities and I took them."
Coach Franklin Pridgen saw many members of last year's state championship team in attendance, a fact he said helped spark the Wolves. "They wanted to let those guys know that the legacy they left was in good hands," he said.
The Wesleyan offense rounded up the usual suspects for their weekly mauling. Quarterback Conor Welton connected on his first five passes and wound up completing 9 of 11 for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Welton's first touchdown was a 27-yarder to Anderson Porter, who slipped a tackler on the sideline in order to complete the score. His second touchdown pass was caught by Scott Schroer, who eluded two tacklers en route to his 39-yard touchdown and was crowned Homecoming King at halftime ceremonies. "I voted for him," Garrison admitted in an exit poll. "He's a good friend."
Welton's third touchdown pass was a shuttle pass that tailback Kyle Karempelis caught and took up the middle for a 9-yard score. Karempelis also did his typical damage afoot, rushing 14 times for 128 yards and touchdowns of 3 and 60 yards. Drew Widner also had a 14-yard TD run.
Much credit should go to the Wesleyan line, led by center David Andrews, guards Chris Zalesky and Jim Sheffield, tackles Ian Barnard and Jimmy Dugal and tight end Will Farrell. They blocked well enough to permit Wesleyan's first-team offense to gain 350 yards.
The game was so one-sided that a running clock was used for the entire second half. Social Circle (2-4, 1-1) managed only two first downs in the first half, before Wesleyan began filling positions with guys wearing shiny gold pants. Redskins quarterback Devaris Pitts was sacked three times, lost a fumble and threw an interception. Social Circle's only score came as the clock expired, when Jeremy Wyatt ran 90 yards against the third-string defense. Other Wesleyan defensive stalwarts included Brinson Porter, Andrews, Jordan Pope and Bobby Fulton, who picked up a fumble around the 7 and pushed his way in for a touchdown.
"This was a very unexpected result," Pridgen said. "Our kids played with the kind of intensity that we haven't seen in a while and that excites me very much."