Jalen Leary ran for 229 yards and four touchdowns and coach Mark Stroud notched his 200th coaching win as Calvary Day rolled past visiting Strong Rock Christian 42-7 in the first round of the GHSA Class A Private state football playoffs Friday night.
The ninth-seeded Cavaliers (9-2) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen at eighth-seeded Wesleyan next Friday in Norcross.
Calvary offense warmed up for the Wolves by overpowering Strong Rock (5-6). The Cavs finished with 526 yards — 382 on the ground and 144 through the air.
Leary did most of the damage, scoring on runs of 1, 14, 1 and 8 yards. Vince Grassi added a first-quarter TD and backup quarterback Kaleb Park scored on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Alan Gibbs booted six point-after kicks.
“(Leary) can make something out of nothing,” Stroud said. “He’s super in all phases. He does all the things a good back does.”
Calvary scored on six of its eight possessions and all four of its second-half possessions.
Leary scored three times after intermission.
“We’re a good team and (Strong Rock) is a good team, but we just wanted (to win) more,” Leary said.
It all led to a celebratory night for Stroud, who now has a 200-93 coaching record in 26 seasons.
“It’s very nice,” said Stroud of the milestone. “But everyone knows it takes great coaches, great players, a great fan base and most importantly, you have to have a great wife (Pam).”
Calvary looked like it was in for an easy night at the start against its opponent from Locust Grove (located about 10 miles north of Griffin).
Before Strong Rock registered its initial first down, the Cavs had a 14-0 lead behind 1-yard runs from Grassi and Leary.
Calvary’s second possession was interesting. Twice, the Cavs scored apparent touchdowns only to have both negated by penalties.
They overcame 35 yards of penalties and actually produced 71 offensive yards while punching in a drive that started at the Patriots’ 36.
Calvary finished with 16 penalties for 132 yards.
Despite the whistles, Calvary didn’t seem to be in any danger of losing an advantage built after its first four offensive plays. Starting from the SRCS 47, Leary ripped off runs of 29 and 15 yards on the Cavs’ first two snaps, and Grassi dove in from the 1 two plays later for a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
During its second possession, Calvary overcame a third-and-9 on Leary’s 10-yard run and erased most of a second-and-23 predicament on Leary’s 22-yard scamper to the visitors’ 6.
Two plays later, Leary, who finished the first quarter with 93 yards, powered in from the 1 to make it 14-0.
Penalties did little to slow down the Cavs in the second half. They drove 63, 70, 60 and 68 yards for scores to discourage the Patriots.
C—Vince Grassi 1 run (Alan Gibbs kick)
C—Jalen Leary (Gibbs kick)
C—Leary 14 run (Gibbs kick)
SR—Cameron Brooks 18 pass from Demetrius Knight (Kennedy Moorman kick)
C—Leary 1 run (Gibbs kick)
C—Leary 8 run (Gibbs kick)
C—Kaleb Park 4 run (Gibbs kick)