Last week, the Athens Hornets won a season opener for the first time since 2008. This week, they turned the clock back once again.
In defeating the Spring Hill Panthers, 42-0, Friday night, the Hornets improved to 2-0 for the first time since the 2008 Hornets started the season 3-0. Athens upped its record against Spring Hill to 4-0 over its last four meetings.
While the Hornets once again looked impressive on the offensive side of the ball, it was the defense that set the tone. Spring Hill’s offense was held to just 80 yards of total offense and five first downs. One of those first downs came via a penalty and two more were recorded in the game’s final minutes. Athens also picked up three more interceptions – this time by Tim Tanner, Nikell Roberts and Jamie Morelli – to run their season total to five in two games.
As if that weren’t bad enough for Spring Hill quarterback Jacob Rooney, he was also the victim of two crushing blindside sacks by linebackers KJ Cumby and Chris Jefferson. Cumby’s hit sent the ball flying into the air out of Rooney’s hands – one of six Panther fumbles – while Jefferson’s blow led to the quarterback slowly picking himself up off the turf late in the contest.
The shutout was the Hornets' first since a 34-0 win over Wills Point on Sept. 16, 2011.
Now, about that offense …
The Hornets once again controlled the line of scrimmage and unloaded their stable of running backs. When the smoke cleared, head coach Paul Essary had his quarterbacks hand the ball off to 11 different players. Junior running back Devin Hall got the ball 19 times and made the most of it, rushing for 178 yards and three touchdowns – including the first score of the game made possible off Tanner's interception.
Athens went up 12-0 when Anthony Sanders hit Travon Fuller on a 36-yard pitch-and-catch and increased the lead to 25-0 by halftime on a five-yard Hall run and a one-yard plunge from Logan Fuller, who scored twice and ran for 94 yards a week after going for 117 in a win over Kaufman.
Fuller's second score, another one-yarder, made it 32-0 midway through the third quarter and Hall got one last blast in on a 24-yard scamper that pushed the lead to 39-0. David Cedillo capped the scoring with a 20-yard field goal.
In two games this season, Athens has rushed for 727 yards.