For two and a half quarters, the Athens Hornets looked like they would end a two-game losing streak.
In the last quarter and a half, Lindale had different ideas scoring 21 unanswered points in winning 35-16 over the Hornets at Bruce Field.
The Hornets held a 16-14 lead at the half with strong defense and some trick plays mixed in against the first-place team in District 9-4A, Division I play.
“I wouldn’t say it was a tale of two halves,” Athens coach Zach Harrell said. “I think there was some plays that went against us in the first half. We were driving and were up and the pick-six was definitely momentum changing. We got to find a way to overcome that. We then score and cut it to five and get a holding call. I think our guys fought their tails off for two halves.”
Athens (4-3 overall, 0-3 in District 9-4A, DI play) returns to action Friday as they travel to Palestine to take on the Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Wildcats (6-2, 4-0) defeated Henderson, 17-8 for their third straight win of the season. The contest against Athens will be Palestine’s homecoming game.
Here is the Sideline Review from Friday’s contest between the Hornets and the Eagles.
– OFFENSIVE STANDOUTS: Of the 466 yards of total offense, Athens sophomore quarterback Ty Arroyo accounted for 314 yards. He went 25 of 39 for 234 yards passing with one TD and two interceptions. He had 22 carries for 80 yards rushing. His top target was senior Jarred Duff with nine receptions for 131 yards. JeCorey Roberts accounted for 17 carries for 70 yards. Dylan Marshall had three carries for 51 yards and one touchdown on a nice hitch and pitch play in the first quarter.
– DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS: The Hornets defense was led by Senior Connor Clay with eight tackles, while Cedric Lowe had six tackles. Derek Killingworth added five tackles, while Chase Friederich had three tackles, one fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
– FIGHTING HARD: Facing the top team in the district and holding a 16-14 lead at the half shows the Hornets can play with the top teams in the district. The defense held the Eagles to roughly six minutes of offense in the first half. They allowed 297 total yards and had two fumble recoveries by Jarred Duff and Gage Friedrich on Lindale running back Jordan Jenkins. The Hornets also had a safety on the opening possession for Lindale as the ball was snapped over quarterback Sam Peterson’s head.
“I am proud of these guys and they way that they fought,” Harrell said. “That is the best team that we have played by far, and we fought with them and battled. It didn’t go our way, but that is part of this game. We have got to keep trying to get better. I am very proud of them.”
– PLAYING TOGETHER: Even with the three-game losing streak, the Hornets are buying into what the coaching staff is telling them during the week. Harrell said he saw players helping each other on the sidelines and fighting until the final whistle.
“I thought we played as a team and had guys trying to pick each other up when things went bad,” Harrell said. “We had guys that had each other’s back and we have some new guys on varsity. I thought we didn’t quit and kept playing. I want to see us keep getting better. We got better tonight no doubt about it.”
NOTE: For a preview of the Palestine game, check out the Thursday printed edition of the Athens Daily Review.