MARIETTA — Pope quarterback Holland Frost engineered three fourth quarter touchdowns to rally the Greyhounds to a 27-21 Region 5AAAA (N) homecoming victory Thursday at the Pope Multi-Sport Stadium.
Pope (6-1, 3-1), which has won two straight, trailed 21-6 early in the fourth quarter after Torrey Richardson recovered a Frost fumble on Pope’s first possession of the period and returned it for a 23-yard touchdown to put the Yellow Jackets (3-4, 2-2) ahead 21-6 with 11:30 left in the game.
With nearly the entire fourth quarter remaining, Frost began the comeback by connecting on touchdown passes of 59 and 15 yards on the Greyhounds next two drives to pull Pope to within 21-19 with 5:42 remaining.
Sprayberry was able to pick up one first down on its next possession, but two plays of the five-play drive ended with incompletions to stop the clock, and the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt.
Pope capitalized on its final drive using Frost and running back Brooks Climmons. Climmons carried the ball six times for 22 yards on the drive and Frost ran twice for 19 yards and threw a 24-yard pass to Ronald Woods to set up first-and-goal at the Yellow Jackets’ 3-yard line. Three plays later, Frost ran around the right side for a 1-yard touchdown and connected on the two-point conversion — a pass to Myles Everett — to cap the 21-point comeback, giving Pope its first lead of the game, 27-21, with 16 seconds left in the contest.
Sprayberry managed to run one play with 8 seconds on the clock, but Jacob Chesser’s pass to D.J. Vereen only netted 17 yards, sending the Greyhounds’ faithful home in a celebratory mood.
“We’ve been a second half team over the years,” said Frost, who rushed 15 times for 122 yards and a touchdown and completed 11 of 19 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. “Our offensive line did a great job with blocking, and Sprayberry did a nice job shutting down Myles Everett, who’s someone I like to go to a lot. But, my other teammates stepped up like Brooks Climmons, Ronald Woods, Jared Walton and Mason Shiflett. All those guys played a big role in getting this win.
“We pride ourselves on not giving up and not quitting, and we wanted to show everybody that (Thursday).”
Pope’s fourth quarter drives were reminiscent of the ones it had in the first half as the Greyhounds found themselves in Sprayberry territory four times before halftime.
Two of those possessions led to 33- and 29-yard field goals from Zach McCown while two others resulted in interceptions. The two teams combined for five turnovers — Pope three times and Sprayberry twice — in the first half.
Torrey Richardson recovered a Pope fumble which led to a 17-yard touchdown run from Tye Richardson to put the Yellow Jackets in front 7-0 with 5:23 in the first period.
McCown’s 33-yard field goal made it 7-3 one possession later, and after a Daniel Maples interception gave Pope the ball on its own 43, McCown connected on his second field goal with 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
Sprayberry extended its lead to 14-6 when Chesser, who was eight for 13 for 133 and an interception, completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to Tye Richardson as time expired at halftime.
The score remained 14-6 through the third quarter, leading to Torrey Richardson’s 16-yard fumble return.
Frost connected with Walton for the 59-yard score with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter and found Shiflett for the 15-yard touchdown pass with 5:42 on the clock.
“This is just a bunch of kids who believe they can win any game,” Pope coach Matt Kemper said. “That goes a long, long way when you think like that. We moved the ball in the first half, but turnovers hurt us, and (Sprayberry) got that cheap touchdown right before halftime, but we came out in the second half and never gave up. I’m just glad to have been a part of this.”
Climmons rushed 16 times for 90 yards, while Everett caught five passes for 49 yards.
Corey Cooper carried the ball 10 times for 39 yards to lead Sprayberry, and Vereen had five receptions for 88 yards. Tye Richardson, who rushed 17 yards for a score, also caught two balls for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Sprayberry was limited offensively for the final three quarters after starting quarterback Corbin Jackson suffered an injury in the first quarter and returned for one snap in the second half.
“I’m proud of my boys and proud of this team,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “This team battled and never quit, and anytime your team battles to end you have to be proud.”