Wesleyan’s Ollis Robinson (15) stiff arms a Lakeview Academy defender to avoid a tackle which led to a touchdown during the second half of the game. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
NORCROSS— At the end of each week of practice, Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen has his team practice singing the school’s alma mater, an honor the team may only partake in on Friday nights after a win.
Entering its homecoming game against Lakeview Academy on Friday night, Wesleyan had only sung the song in practice so far in 2013. The Wolves started the year 0-5, with four of the losses coming by a combined 18 points.
When the final whistle blew this week though, the Wolves belted out the alma mater as it celebrated its first victory of the season, a 28-7 win over Lakeview (0-5).
“The wins have been hard to come by this year obviously,” Pridgen said. “I’m just really excited that our kids can celebrate for a change instead of feeling like they had their guts ripped out.”
The two teams traded turnovers in the first half with two each, as it was 7-7 after 24 minutes. Sophomore quarterback Drew Aspinwall punched in the first score of the game for the Wolves with a 3-yard run in the first quarter.
Lakeview tied the game with 3:45 left in the first half on a 9-yard touchdown run by fullback Drake Hollander. The Lions’ score was set up by the second fumble of the game for Wesleyan starting QB Christian Stark.
The Wolves took over the game in the second half with their rushing attack. Junior running back Ollis Robinson finished the game with 106 yards on 10 carries and a 37-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead his team wouldn’t relinquish.
After a Lakeview three-and-out, Wesleyan took full control behind the fresh legs of Josh Garrard as he broke free for gains of 24 and 30 yards. The sophomore carried the ball 10 times — all in the second half — for 93 yards.
Stark added the rushing onslaught with 49 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Stark also connected on a 63-yard touchdown pass to freshman Harrison Cook early in the fourth quarter to put away Lakeview for good.
“We really like our offensive line and the way that it’s growing up and doing some different things,” Pridgen said. “I didn’t feel good about our passing package that we had and I did feel good — and so did (assistant coach) Lee Rider — about running the ball so we went with it.”
While the Wolves’ rushing attack melted the clock, the defense kept the Lions triple-option offense in neutral.
Lakeview’s offense finished the game with just 235 total yards. The Lions had just 70 yards rushing in the second half, 59 of which came on a third-quarter run by quarterback Avonte Gober. Gober finished the game with 111 yards and a fumble on 19 carries.
The Wolves forced four turnovers in the game, including an interception by Kevin Stipe in the first quarter, and allowed just 11 first downs.
“We changed out lineman up front and we sort of took a page out of Buddy Ryan’s defense,” Pridgen said of the defense’s halftime adjustments. “We started shading the guards … we moved things around and took away what they wanted to do, and our kids executed really well.”
WESLEYAN SCHOOL 28, LAKEVIEW ACADEMY 7
Lakeview 0 7 0 0 7
Wesleyan 7 0 14 7 28
Wesleyan: Drew Aspinwall 3 run (Jordan Weaver kick) 1:00
Lakeview: Drake Hollander 9 run (Chance Calderhead kick) 3:45
Wesleyan: Ollie Robinson 37 run (Weaver kick) 9:03
Wesleyan: Christian Stark 9 run (Weaver kick) 3:45
Wesleyan: Harrison Cook 63 pass from Stark (Weaver kick) 11:14