By Zach Shugan
ROSWELL, Ga. — What looked like a close game Friday at Ray Manus Stadium turned out to be more of a beatdown, as Roswell scored 27 unanswered points to defeat previously-undefeated Campbell, 41-21.
“We executed [in the second half],” Roswell head coach Chris Prewett said. “We were playing hard in the first half, but I don’t know if our execution was at the level it needs to be.”
Roswell (4-0), which entered the contest ranked No. 6 in Class 7A, led 20-14 over the Spartans (3-1) following an action-packed first half.
The Hornets jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind a pair of touchdowns from Ethan Nation, whose five receptions for 148 yards led the team on the night. On the Hornets’ first drive, the four-star cornerback Nation took a short pass from Robbie Roper — who continued his hot start to the season by passing for 323 yards five touchdowns — and ran 39 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, Nation scooped up a shanked punt by Campbell and ran it back over 50 yards for a touchdown.
“You would like him to catch it in the air,” Prewett said.
The Hornets’ second-year head coach acknowledged the fact that Nation didn’t have much of a chance to catch this punt, though, and still made the best of the circumstances.
“It was awesome. It was a great play.”
Campbell didn’t roll over after the 14-0 start by Roswell. The Spartans responded by scoring 14 unanswered points in the second quarter to tie the game.
The Hornets re-gained the lead before halftime on a 35-yard strike from Roper to Shaun Spence, and when they came out of the locker room for the second half, they picked up right where they left off.
Their defense held Campbell to three three-and-outs in a row, and the offense reached the end zone on three consecutive drives. All three touchdowns came on Roper passes (31 yards to Nation, 32 yards to Zeke Moore, 32 yards to Spence). Just like that, Roswell led 41-14 near the end of the third quarter.
Campbell scored in the final minutes with the Hornets’ starters resting on the sideline as they had been for most of the fourth quarter.
“We had a good start, but we had a lull in the middle of the second quarter,” Prewett said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about. We have good spurt and really high moments then we hit this low moment all the sudden, and it takes us a little time to get out of that. We got to correct that and get that fixed if we want to do what our ultimate end goal is.”
The Hornets have scored at least 40 points in every game this season, and their smallest margin of victory is 19 points against South Forsyth in Week One. Even though they started the 2020 season 6-0, there’s a new feeling in the air following their 4-0 start this year.
“It’s just different,” Prewett said. “The biggest difference is we have an actual offensive system ingrained in our guys now. Last year, we learned our offense through Zoom meetings. I can’t even count the number of reps we got this summer. We’re putting up good numbers right now, but the biggest thing we got to fix is execution.”
Roswell (4-0) will face its biggest test so far this season when it heads to Walton next week. The Raiders (2-1) opened the season with an overtime win over Lowndes in the Corky Kell Classic and a road win at Pope, earning them a No. 4 ranking in Class 7A. However, they’ve since lost 51-35 at home to West Forsyth and dropped out of the top 10.
This marks the 18th year in a row Roswell and Walton have faced off and the 34th total meeting between the two teams residing eight miles apart. Other than Roswell’s longtime rival Milton, who has squared off against the Hornets 66 times, no other team has played Roswell more. The Hornets lead the all-time series with Walton, 17-16, according to Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
“It’s always a fun game,” Prewett said. “It’s always a good one. The positive thing is we’re going to both be challenged. I know they’ve had a couple good games to start with. We got to see where we’re at, and we got to make sure we’re executing and we’re healthy going in.”