NORCROSS - It wasn't a fun week around the Wesleyan campus. A lot of students were sick with flu-like symptoms and football coach Franklin Pridgen was concerned with how his team would perform.
Turns out he had nothing to worry about.
Wesleyan (2-0) did very little wrong in its 35-0 win over Darlington on Friday, avenging one of last year's two losses in an emphatic matter. Darlington (0-2) should be glad they saw the defending Class A champions when they weren't at their best.
"I'm always very proud of my team," Pridgen said. "But I think I'm a little more proud of them this week for the way they responded to the challenge.."
Wesleyan quarterback Conor Welton completed 11 of 13 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns and running back Kyle Karempelis rushed 13 times for 102 yards and one touchdown and caught two passes for 29 yards and one touchdown. Wesleyan's first-team defense allowed only one first down.
"We executed well," Welton said. "We had a couple of bad plays, but we'll work on it and get better. It was definitely a good game."
The Darlington defense got a test in the first half when Welton fumbled the snap, never controlled the ball and watched it flip into the hands of linebacker Tylon Garrett at the Wolves' 45. But Darlington put itself in a hole with consecutive penalties and had to punt.
That opened the door for Wesleyan's efficient spread offense. The Wolves scored on a 10-play, 50-yard drive that was capped when Welton scrambled for a 9-yard touchdown. The left-handed senior had picked up a critical first down on fourth-and-1 to sustain the drive three plays earlier.
Darlington failed to move the ball and went four-and-out to set up a 47-yard Wesleyan drive. Welton connected with Devin Stanton for a key 21-yard gain. Karempelis finished it two plays later after catching a shuttle pass from Welton and cutting left for an 11-yard touchdown.
Wesleyan scored again after another four-and-out, again driving 50 yards in seven plays. Karempelis nearly scored on fourth-and-1 from the 23, but was dragged down at the goal line. He scored on the next play to give Wesleyan a 21-0 halftime lead.
Wesleyan added another touchdown on its first possession of the second half, a drive capped by a 1-yard Zander Yost touchdown run, then finished the scoring when Welton connected with Anderson Porter for a 34-yard toudchdown. The last score came on the first play after Darlington failed on fourth-and-1.
"They're the defending state champs for a reason," said Darlington coach Tommy Atha. "We've got a lot of guys who have to grow up and we knew that going in. We've just got to keep fighting."
Darlington was limited to 105 yards rushing, with 61 of that coming on a run by Tre Langston, who was stripped at the end of the play by Bobby Fulton. David Crawford recovered for Wesleyan, ending the Tigers' longest play of the night on an odd note.