Connor Clay going for Palestine tackle

Athens senior Connor Clay looks to stop the Palestine back in a 42-6 loss at Palestine Friday. Clay finished with 15 tackles in the loss.

PALESTINE – The Athens Hornets ran into a buzz saw last week against the Palestine Wildcats.

The Hornets dropped their fourth straight contest in a 42-6 loss during Palestine’s homecoming game at Wildcat Stadium Friday.

Athens (4-4 overall and 0-4 in District 9-4A, Division I) turned the ball over three times in Palestine territory in the first half, twice in the red zone.

The Hornets return to action Friday in their home finale against the Kilgore Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Kilgore (6-2 overall, 4-0 in district) defeated Henderson, 35-9, last week in Kilgore.

Here is the Sideline Review for the Hornets and Palestine contest.

– A NEW WRINKLE: The Hornets found a way to get starting quarterback Ty Arroyo and backup quarterback Daniel Stanley in the game at the same time. Athens had Stanley playing slot receiver, running back and quarterback during the game. Stanley threw the lone touchdown for the Hornets on a 43-yard bomb to Cedric Lowe with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter.

– FINDING THE OFFENSE: Facing a very physical Palestine defense, the Hornets still put up 272 yards of offense and averaged 7.8 plays per drive. Arroyo was 13 of 26 passing for 105 yards but had two interceptions. Five different players had at least one reception, led by Lowe with four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.

– DEFENSIVE HONORS: The top player on the Hornets defensively was once again Connor Clay. The senior linebacker finished with 15 tackles, while Cedric Lowe finished with 11. Timber Crouch had a strong game with six tackles and a caused fumble, while Trey Manning and Tray Hull had six tackles. Clay currently has 100 tackles, two sacks, six quarterback pressures, one caused fumble and one fumble recovery this season.

– GIVING PRAISE: In our interview last week, coach Zach Harrell spoke highly of the Palestine head coach and the program they have established.

Coach (Lance) Angel is one of the best coaches around. They will get the ball to the perimeter and do it all. They will get the quick hitters and quick sweeps and they will run downhill most of the time. They have big play capability because they have really talented football players and are really good up front.

– PLAYING WITH THE BEST: In the 35-16 loss to the Lindale Eagles, Harrell said he saw a lot of positive things from his team in how they have been fighting all season to play with the best.

“I was extremely proud of our kids. We told them at the beginning of the week last week that their would not be anybody outside of this building would think that we had a chance to win that game. If we believed internally and we went to practice strong that we would have a chance to win. We did and they believed and worked hard all week. … We have proved that we can play with the best of the best and now we have to find a way to win those games. That is what we focused on Monday is showing them how close we are to beating those people. It is just a play here or a play there and being consistent. I was extremely proud of all aspects with how we played that football game.”

NOTE: For a full preview of the Athens and Kilgore home finale, check out the Thursday printed edition of the Athens Daily Review.

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