Nathan Sims

Athens running back Nathan Sims gets around the Chapel Hill defense for a touchdown. He finished with 26 carries for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He had two receptions for 95 yards and another score.

The Athens Hornets were looking to go 5-0 to start the season for the first time since the 2013 season.

They ran into a talented Chapel Hill Bulldog team in a 37-25 loss at Bruce Field on Senior Night.

It was a good football game between two good teams,” Athens coach Zac Harrell said. “You got to give credit to Chapel Hill making a lot of plays and being a classy team.”

This was the first time the two teams have met since the 2013 season when Chapel Hill defeated Athens, 52-26, in the first round of the playoffs. Athens went 10-1 overall that season.

Athens(4-1, 0-1 in district 9-4A, Division I) returns to action Friday as they travel to Henderson to play the Lions. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Lions Stadium.

Henderson (1-2 overall) lost to Greenville, 34-18 Friday. Friday’s game is the district opener for the Lions under coach Phil Castles.

Here is the Sideline Reviewfrom Friday’s contest between the Hornets and the Bulldogs.

SOLID SENIOR NIGHT: One player who continues to put up big numbers is senior Nathan Sims. He finished with 315 all-purpose yards with 26 carries for 220 yards and two touchdowns (9 and two yards) and had two receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown of 7 yards. After the game, he got a handshake from Chapel Hill coach Jeff Riordan.

COSTLY MISTAKES: Even with the 12-point loss to Chapel Hill, Harrell was pleased with how hard the guys fought. It was the self-inflicted wounds that cost Athens three points in the PAT game.

I was proud of the ways our guys fought. We made too many mistakes to beat a quality team like those guys. I was proud of our effort and the way we competed, but we got to be better on special teams,” Harrell said. “The extra point game was huge and we missed the first three. We gave up way too many plays on third and long. You got to give credit to them because they made those plays.”

KEEP FIGHTING: Every time the Bulldogs got ahead by 12 points, Athens kept fighting about a 24-12 deficit with 28 seconds remaining in the third and 30-18 with 10:52 remaining in the ball game.

We did fight and battle and we are always going to do that,” Harrell said. “That is one thing about these guys in this program is we are not going to quit and keep fighting. It is never fun to lose, but it was like I told them after the game, you got two choices from here in how are you going to respond will say a lot about this team. Are you going to respond negatively and make excuses or respond positively and learn from the mistakes?”

STRETCH RUN: With five games remaining in the season, Harrell knows they will continue to see quality teams like Chapel Hill. He gave a lot of credit to the Bulldogs and quarterback Cam Ford.

I think that is one of the best teams in the district,” Harrell said. “I think they are a great team and that quarterback is as good of a high school player as you are going to find. It will be like that every week, and it will be a battle. We knew that going into this district is they are all going to be good football teams. It is going to be a straight battle every week, so we have to get better and learn from those mistakes that we made tonight.”

FINAL THOUGHT: “We told the guys that this is a great opportunity for our program. Our goals at Athens is for us is to be mentioned with the greats in this district,” Harrell said. “That is our goal is to be one of the best programs in the state and in the area. We are not their yet but playing these people presents a great challenge for our guys.”

For a preview of Friday’s Athens and Hendersoncontest, check out the Thursday printed edition of the Athens Daily Review.

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