PEACHTREE CORNERS — Friday evening kicked off the season for Wesleyan as it hosted Holy Innocents’ at Henderson Stadium, and both offenses looked to be in mid-season form early on, especially on the ground.
The annual matchup had been a defensive battle the past few years, ending in a 10-9 Golden Bears victory last season. This year wasn’t much different as Holy Innocents’ hung on for a 17-14 victory.
“Every game with (Wesleyan) is a knock-down, drag-out fight,” said Holy Innocents’ head coach Ryan Livezey, a Norcross grad.
Connor Dolan scored from three yards out to start the scoring for the Golden Bears at 10:07 in the first quarter. Earlier in the drive, running back Clay Pfohl raced 66 yards down the right sideline to set up the Dolan touchdown.
The Wolves responded on a 14 yard strike from Christian Stark to Tucker Cannon in the corner of the end zone with 1:51 remaining in the first quarter. An extra point added by Jordan Weaver tied the game 7-7.
Later in the first, the Wolves took advantage of a fumble recovery on the Golden Bears’ 22-yard line. Christian Stark found the end zone on a 1 yard run with 9:49 remaining in the second quarter, a Weaver extra point made the game 14-7 in favor of the Wolves.
The Golden Bears capitalized on good field position before the half with quarterback Luke Wright finding Jack Palmare for a 12 yard completion to set up a 41-yard Walker Thomas field goal.
The third quarter was more traditional as both defenses clamped down to prevent any scoring. However, in the fourth quarter Dolan scored his second touchdown of the game from three yards out to put the Golden Bears up for good at 17-14. Wright finished 5-of-13 passing with 35 yards on the ground for the game.
“We were able to work out some kinks from last week,” Livezey said. “We just happened to make a few more plays than them. Walker Thomas’s field goal was huge for us and gave us momentum going into the half. Wesleyan is a very well-coached team, we just want to get better each week.”
Stark led Wesleyan with 68 yards on the ground while going 3-of-11 in the air with a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown in his first start at quarterback. Stuart Johnson who plays both offensive and defensive line helped to lead the Wolves defense with six tackles.
“I thought our running game was fantastic,” Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen said. “Give a lot of credit to our offensive line. I was proud of our resilience tonight, we have a lot of players that are young and inexperienced but they rose to the occasion.”
Holy Innocents’ 7 3 0 7 — 17
Wesleyan 7 7 0 0 — 14
Holy Innocents’: Connor Dolan 3 run (Thomas kick) 10:07
Wesleyan: Tucker Cannon 14 pass from Christian Stark (Weaver kick) 1:51
Wesleyan: Stark 1 run (Weaver kick) 9:49
Holy Innocents’: Walker Thomas 41 FG, :00
Holy Innocents’: Dolan 3 YD Run (Thomas kick) 11:11