FAIRFIELD — The Athens Hornets hit the road to Fairfield on Friday to take on the Eagles in a matchup of 2-0 squads.
The Hornets came off a 28-16 home victory last week against Rusk while Fairfield defeated Brownsboro on the road 14-6.
The teams exchanged first half leads, but Fairfield was able to pull away in the second half, taking advantage of some miscues by Athens, for the 45-25 win.
On the Eagles’ opening drive, they converted two first downs into Hornet territory and Justin Abram took it in for a 28-yard rushing touchdown to put Fairfield up first, 7-0.
On Athens’ first drive, with 3rd-and-4 at Fairfield’s 33, Jerquindon Taylor dropped a potential touchdown catch, but on 4th-and-4, Jarred Duff would create a new set of downs with his 11-yard catch.
Three plays later, Taylor bounced back and caught a 17-yard TD pass as the Hornets trailed 7-6 after a missed extra point.
Abram ran from Fairfield’s 38 all the way to Athens’ 14 on the next drive. A rushing touchdown by Jarmychael Hudson was wiped out by a holding call on the Eagle O-line. Three plays later, the Hornet defense forced a turnover on downs.
Two drives later, the Eagles were at their own 44, but the possession would be bumped to the Hornet 28 after a pass interference on Jaylynn Gualdarama. Abram then ran for 12 yards to the 16. He was sacked afterwards and after an incompletion on third down, the Eagles opened the second quarter with a settled field goal to lead 10-6.
Facing 4th-and-1 at the Fairfield 44, Nathan Sims picked up four yards to get a first down. After Rowdy Godwin caught a pass, a late personal foul was called on the Eagle defense and one play later, Taylor got his second touchdown with a 10-yard catch as Athens took their first lead at 12-10 with 9:30 after a botched snap on the extra point.
The Eagles marched down on their next possession, with seven first downs converted, and Abram punched it in with a one-yard score as Fairfield led 17-12.
The Hornets’ last drive of the half was highlighted by a 26-yard reception by Taylor to the Eagles’ 38. Athens ran the clock and capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run from Sims and they led 18-17, the halftime score, after a failed two-point conversion.
Athens opened the second half, but Taylor fumbled the ball on a flicker from Chase Frederich and Fairfield recovered. Two plays later, Abram dashed for a 45-yard TD run as the Eagles jumped back ahead, 24-18.
Sims led the Hornets as they bounced back on their next possession, which began with a 24-yard run by him. After reaching 4th-and-4 at Fairfield’s 14, they would convert a first down and two plays later, Sims ran in for six yards for his second touchdown as Athens led 25-24 after their first extra point of the evening.
After a couple of double-digit yard runs, the Eagles reached Athens’ 17 and Abram would eventually punch it in with a six-yard touchdown run for the 31-25 lead with 3:42 in the third quarter.
The Hornets turned it over on downs when they got it back with under three-and-a-half minutes and the Eagles had possession going into the fourth quarter at Athens’ 36.
On 4th-and-4, Abram found Carl Daniels in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown as the Eagles padded their lead to 38-25.
With 11:24 in the game, Athens fumbled again and Fairfield recovered. However, they would fumble as well deep in the red zone as the Hornets recovered. They would be forced to eventually punt.
The Eagles sealed the game with a 44-yard TD run by Hudson as Fairfield led 45-25 with 5:30 to go, and that would be the final score as the Hornets took their first loss of 2019.
Athens drops to 2-1 while Fairfield improves to 3-0.
The Hornets begin a two-game homestand on Sept. 20 as they welcome Ferris at 7:30 p.m. while Fairfield hosts Palestine that same night.