BROWNSBORO — The Athens Hornets kicked off their first season under coach Zac Harrell on Friday night at Brownsboro for their annual rivalry game against the Bears.
The teams exchanged the lead in a defensive first half before the Hornets made halftime adjustments and pulled away for the 33-14 win and bringing the Highway 31 trophy back to Athens.
The Hornets went three and out to start, but they fumbled the punt snap and Brownsboro recovered the ball at Athens’ 25-yard line. However, Ty McKenzie would fumble it five plays later and the Hornets had it at their 9.
After converting two first downs on the ensuing drive, Chase Frederich connected with Jerquindon Taylor for a 63-yard touchdown and the 6-0 Athens lead after a missed extra point with four and a half minutes in the first quarter.
Cole Williams led the Bears’ next drive and after reaching the Hornets’ 31, Williams dashed for 22 yards to the 9. Two plays later, he punched it in and the Bears led 7-6 with 10:44 until halftime.
JeCorey Roberts led Athens on their drive and at Brownsboro’s 30, Taylor caught his second touchdown for 30 yards and the 12-7 advantage after a two-point attempt failed with 7:12 in the first half.
The Bears' last drive of the half was highlighted by a 27-yard pass play from Williams. Facing 2nd and goal at the Hornet 1, Wehrmann was sacked for a loss of three yards and Rowdy Godwin blocked a pass on third down. However, Noah Sissom caught a touchdown pass from Wehrmann and Brownsboro took the 14-12 lead at halftime.
In their opening drive of the second half, it looked like the Bears would convert a big first down in Hornet territory, but after personal foul and unsportsmanlike penalties, they backed up and punted after Athens made a third-down stop.
Athens got the ball at their 12 yard line with 8:49 in the third quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 22 yard run by Nathan Sims into Bear territory. After reaching Brownsboro’s 2, Roberts punched it in for a two-yard touchdown run and regained the 19-14 Athens lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Bears faced a fourth down to start the fourth quarter and Wehrmann’s pass was incomplete as they turned it over on downs.
One play later, Taylor took off for a 38-yard touchdown run for his third score of the night and the Hornets built the lead to 26-14 with 10:44 to play.
Brownsboro turned the ball over on downs again on their next drive and with less than five minutes in the game, Athens put it away with Taylor’s fourth touchdown as he caught a 72-yard pass from Frederich and the Hornets led 33-14, which would be the final score. With the victory, Athens avenges last year’s 42-29 loss at home to the Bears.
Frederich went 6-of-10 with 203 passing yards and three touchdowns along with three carries for 15 yards. Taylor led Athens with four touchdowns, with three on four catches for 169 yards and one rushing on three carries for 46 yards, on a combined seven touches and 215 yards. Roberts led on the ground with 14 carries for 71 yards and a rushing touchdown.
The Hornet defense shut out Brownsboro in the second half as part of allowing the Bears to 228 total yards.
Sissom and Williams both led the Bears with a receiving and rushing touchdown respectively. Wehrmann went 1-for-5 passing for four yards with a touchdown. Dakota Harmon led the Bear defense with 11 tackles.
The Hornets host the Rusk Eagles this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bruce Field in their home opener while Brownsboro stays home to host Fairfield at 7:30 p.m. that same night.