Athens falls to Central Mountain
For a half Athens hung in there with Class AAAA Central Mountain. Halfway through the third quarter Athens led 19-14 but Central would go on to score 24 unanswered points to win 38-19.
"We played hard," Athens coach Jack Young said. "Our kids played physical. In the end their line of scrimmage controlled things and they kept our offense off the field. We only had the ball three times in the first half and they didn't stop us, we stopped ourselves."
After a scoreless first quarter Central Mountain's Von Walker ran for a 24-yard touchdown with 11:52 left in the first half. After the extra point Central led 7-0.
Athens truck back with 6:40 to go in the second quarter as Troy Stivason scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. He added the extra point to knot things up.
Athens then took a lead with 3:56 left before the half as Casey Clark had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Stivason kick was no good but Athens took a 13-7 left into the half.
Central Mountain quickly reclaimed the lead in the third quarter as Tyler Pvalko returned the opening kick off 97 yards for a touchdown. After the extra point they led 14-13.
Athens' Ray McDougan would return the favor, returning the ensuing kick off 89 yards for a score. The 2-point conversion failed but Athens led 19-14 with 11:30 left in the third quarter.
With 6:04 to go Central Mountain's Cole Renninger caught a 7-yard touchdown pass. After the extra point Central led 21-19.
Then with 55 seconds to play in the third quarter Walker had a 4-yard run for a score with Central taking a 28-19 lead after the extra point.
Central added a touchdown with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter as Drew Alexander ran 6-yards to paydirt followed by a 37-yard field goal from Nick Null to make it a 38-19 final.
The turning point of the game came when Athens had their third possession in the second half and Central Mountain picked off a pass to bring the momentum to their side.
"I got to be proud of the kids because they were a physical football team," Young said. "I think in the end the line of scrimmage was the difference but I can't say our kids backed down. We just got to concentrate on getting healthy."
Getting their offense going was tough for Athens.
"Our defense played OK but they just didn't get us the ball enough," Young said. "Then in the second half we didn't take care of business."
Tyler Birdsall led them in rushing with 87 yards on 22 carries while Stivason had 21 yards on six carries. Birdsall also had two catches for 42 yards.
Through the air Stivason was 5-for-15 for 131 yards with two picks. Brad Sampson had one catch for 44 yards while Garret Clark had one grab for 37.