Fresh off their bye week, the Athens Hornets traveled to Waxahachie on Friday to face off against the Life Mustangs in a battle of 4-1 teams in their district opener.
Most of the first half was back and forth before Life took a 21-point lead at halftime. Athens came out answering and was able to even the game, with two scores coming off of turnovers, but the Mustangs capitalized on late Hornet miscues to pull off the 55-35 home win.
The Hornets only used four plays on their opening drive, including a 19 yard run by Chase Frederich, which was capped off by a 44 yard TD run by Nathan Sims for the 7-0 lead.
It took the Mustangs two plays, a 40 yard catch by Tony Evans and a 30 yard touchdown run by Gage Mayfield to tie it at 7-7.
Life’s next possession started slowly as they were flagged for two false starts and a pass interference, but Athens’ defense couldn’t make the stop as Mayfield picked up a first down on a 45 yard run. They converted two more first downs and capped off with a 10 yard TD catch by Sir Michael Veasley and the 13-7 lead after a missed extra point.
Athens possessed the ball at Life’s 13 as the first quarter ended. As the second quarter started, Sims cashed in his second score with a three yard TD run and Athens led 14-13.
Life’s next drive took just over four minutes and they finished with a 35 yard touchdown catch by Christian May on a 4th and 7 as the Mustangs led 19-14 after another missed extra point.
When Athens shanked the punt on their ensuing possession, Mayfield would run in the end zone for a 29 yard score and the 27-14 lead after two points were added with 4:31 until halftime.
Athens possessed the ball for under four minutes and faced a 4th down, but Jerquindon Taylor could not catch it as the Hornets turned it over.
One play later, Evans caught his second touchdown on 64 yards and the Mustangs led 35-14 at the break with two points.
Athens answered big out of halftime as a nearly three minute drive was capped with Sims’ third touchdown for three yards and they trailed 35-21.
Jaylynn Gualdarama then picked up a Mustang fumble and the Hornets would capitalize a few plays later as Sims ran in for 13 yards and his fourth touchdown as it was now 35-28 with six minutes in the third.
The Hornet defense forced another turnover as Rowdy Godwin recovered a fumble. With less than a minute in the third quarter, Sims scored his fifth touchdown with a 10 yard run and the game was all tied up at 35-35.
As the fourth quarter started, the Mustangs got a spark from a huge catch by Chris Gillespie and then Veasley ran in the end zone for the 41-35 lead after a blocked extra point.
Life never trailed again as they added two more scores, including a pick six in the final minute as they pulled away from Athens, 55-35.
The Hornets drop to 4-2 and 0-1 in district. They return home next Friday to host Midlothian Heritage at 7:30 p.m.