Too many big plays by the Canton Eagles doomed the Athens Hornets in a 48-23 loss Friday night at Bruce Field.
The Eagles (5-1, 1-0) racked up five plays of 47 yards or more — including an 89-yard kickoff return on the game’s opening play, an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 74-yard touchdown pass. Not to mention a 91-yard run late in the game that set up another score.
All in all, it added up to a win for Robert Ivey in his first game back in Athens since coaching the Hornets in the early 2000s. Canton has now won all five of its games by at least 21 points.
It was a night of mixed emotions for the Hornets (1-5, 0-1), who got two key players back from injury (linebackers Adam Stallings and Chris Jefferson), watched senior kicker Jesse Durham kick a school-record 48-yard field goal in the first quarter and got a career-high three rushing touchdowns from sophomore running back Devin Hall. Durham’s boot bested Mike Gillert’s 44-yarder in 1967 against Duncanville. Athens also got its first 100-yard rushing game of the season thanks to quarterback Anthony Sanders, who carried the ball 14 times for 126 yards.
Even so, the Hornets dropped their fourth-straight contest and are still looking for ways to put together a complete game heading into next week’s meeting with high-powered Van — a 69-41 winner over Mineola in other Friday night action.
The Hornets led Canton once — following a two-yard Hall touchdown run with 7:06 left in the second quarter that gave Athens a 16-12 lead. The Eagles began a blitzkrieg immediately afterward, scoring 36 of the game’s next 43 points. Included in that was Dakota Hesskew’s 83-yard touchdown catch from Chandler Eiland that put Canton up 28-16; Reece Sumner’s 74-yard touchdown catch that pushed the lead to 34-23; and Sumner’s 91-yard run that set up the final score of the game — a one-yard touchdown run by Skylor Allbritton. The two long catches both came on third-and-long plays deep in Canton territory.
The closest Athens got to the lead was 28-23 after Hall’s four-yard score with 3:13 left in the third quarter. His score capped an 11-play, 75-yard Hornet drive, but the Eagles scored twice over a two-minute span in the fourth to put the game away.
George Hutson had an interception for the Hornets, K.J. Cumby added a sack, Nick Fincher had a fumble recover and Stallings made several big tackles in his first game of the season — including a stop near midfield that forced a Canton turnover on downs in the first half.
Canton 48, Athens 23
Canton 12 10 6 20 — 48
Athens 9 7 7 0 — 23
C -- Connor Eiland 89 kickoff return (pass fails), 11;42
A -- Jesse Durham 48 FG, 8:20
C -- Dakota Hesskew 3 run (pass fails), 6:02
A -- Devin Hall 1 run (kick blocked), 2:31
A -- Hall 2 run (Durham kick), 7:06
C -- Reece Sumner 3 run (Scott Munroe kick), 4:02
C -- Munroe 32 FG, 1:13
C -- Hesskew 83 pass from Chandler Eiland (run fails), 7:28
A -- Hall 4 run (Durham kick), 3:13
C -- Sumner 74 pass from Ch. Eiland (run fails), 7:58
C -- Sumner 21 run (Munroe kick), 5:58
C -- Skylor Allbritton 1 run (Munroe kick), 2:20
First downs 18 13
Rush-yards 29-249 46-224
Passing yards 262 58
C-A-I 16-25-1 5-17-3
Fumbles-lost 2-1 4-1
Punts-avg. 1-44.0 5-36.2
Penalties-yards 7-50 11-105
Rushing — C: Reece Sumner 8-130; Dakota Hesskew 11-99; Chandler Eiland 6-28; Skylor Allbritton 1-1; team 3-(-9). A: Ladarius Jordan 4-6; Anthony Sanders 14-126; Devin Hall 13-58; Raheem Miller 8-45; Daniel Salazar 2-0; George Hutson 3-(-3); team 2-(-8).
Passing — C: Chandler Eiland 16-23-0-262; Kade Warren 0-2-1-0. A: Anthony Sanders 5-15-2-58; George Hutson 0-2-1-0.
Receiving — C: Nick Hobbs 7-22; Lane Nace 1-16; Connor Eiland 2-37; Reece Sumner 2-83; Colton Williams 3-21; Dakota Hesskew 1-83. A: Javonte Johnson 3-52; Devin Hall 1-(-5); Chris Jefferson 1-11.