Metro Atlanta hasn’t seen a lot of Rabun County’s Gunner Stockton, who plays far from the big-city lights at a Class 2A school in extreme northeast Georgia.

Given the opportunity to play against a much larger school, however, the nation’s top-rated dual-threat quarterback among juniors showed Cobb County that he’s worthy of the hype.

Stockton threw five touchdown passes, ran for two scores and accounted for 386 yards of total offense in less than three quarters to lead the Wildcats (5-1), ranked No. 3 in 2A, to a 63-17 victory over Class 6A Pope in Marietta Friday night.

“We’ve told them all week that any time Rabun County puts a helmet on, we’re supposed to win,” Wildcats coach Jaybo Shaw said. “It doesn’t matter the classification, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. … They took on the challenge of playing a really good Pope team that’s a 6A school, and we answered the bell, and we represented Rabun County and 2A football the way we were supposed to tonight.”

Rabun County took control from the outset, scoring on its first four possessions for a 28-0 lead in the game’s first 15 minutes, as Stockton threw a touchdown pass to Tate Ramey (25 yards) and two to Adriel Clark (23 and 71 yards) and scored on a 1-yard run.

At that point, however, Pope’s offense came to life and appeared ready to make a game of it. On the Greyhounds' next possession, they got their first first down of the night on a 2-yard run by Joe Stellmach with eight minutes to play in the second quarter. Three plays later, Stellmach caught a 69-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Cariaco to cut the lead to 28-7.

After forcing a short Rabun County punt, Pope took over at the Wildcats' 34 and needed just four plays to score, on a 3-yard run by Stellmach, making it a 28-14 game.

The Greyhounds (2-3) had Rabun County in a third-and-3 at its 30-yard line on its next possession, but Stockton took the ball up the middle and went 70 yards for a touchdown, extending the lead to 35-14 and killing the Greyhounds' momentum.

“That was a huge play in the game,” Shaw said. “They had hit two plays on us for touchdowns and we had had to punt. That was a huge momentum shift. Gunner made a play, and he showed once again why he’s the No. 1-rated quarterback in the country. That kind of flipped everything in the game for us at that moment, and the rest is kind of history.”

Rabun County recovered a Pope fumble on the Greyhounds' next drive and scored one play later on a 37-yard pass from Stockton to Lang Windham for a 42-14 lead with 37 seconds remaining in the half.

Stockton’s final play of the night was a 25-yard touchdown pass to Clark with 35 seconds left in the third quarter for a 56-17 lead.

The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

Stockton finished the night 13-of-18 passing for 262 yards and had 124 yards rushing on 13 carries. He has more than 1,400 yards passing and 600 rushing for the season.

Clark, who had his fourth touchdown reception on a 53-yard pass from backup quarterback Garrett Horton with 5:05 remaining in the game to complete the scoring, had a season-high 211 yards on eight catches. Windham ran for 93 yards on 16 carries and had two catches for 43 yards.

Pope ended with 266 yards. Stellmach had 53 yards rushing on 20 carries in addition to the touchdown reception.

This was the first time Rabun County had played a school from Cobb County. The game came together after both teams had out-of-state opponents drop off the schedule before the season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was pretty cool,” Stockton said of playing against a 6A school. “We knew we wanted to come out and start fast and just play as a team.”

Rabun County - 21-21-14-6 - 63

Pope - 0-14-3-0 - 17

First quarter

RC - Tate Ramey 25 pass from Gunner Stockton (Cesar Armenta kick)

RC - Stockton 1 run (Armenta kick)

RC - Adriel Clark 23 pass from Stockton (Armenta kick)

Second quarter

RC - Clark 71 pass from Stockton (Armenta kick)

P - Joe Stellmach 69 pass from Peyton Cariaco (Hudson Standfest kick)

P - Stellmach 3 run (Standfest kick)

RC - Stockton 70 run (Armenta kick)

RC - Lang Windham 37 pass from Stockton (Armenta kick)

Third quarter

RC - Windham 11 run (Armenta kick)

P - Standfest 27 field goal

RC - Clark 25 pass from Stockton (Armenta kick)

Fourth quarter

RC - Clark 53 pass from Garrett Horton (Armenta kick)

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