The Athens football team scored in all three aspects – offense, defense and special teams – of the game in its 35-7 Cloverwood Conference victory over Loyal on Friday.
Loyal squared the game up at 7-7 in the second quarter, but the Bluejays took control the last three quarters.
Matt Weise scored a 6- and 45-yard touchdown run to give the Bluejays a 21-7 lead and they never looked back.
Loyal had chances to get back in the game, and actually outrushed the Bluejays 286 to 243. The Bluejays’ defense, though, bent but did not break, however.
“We were very pleased with our offensive line running the ball,” Athens’ head coach Ryan Bargender said, who won his first career game in his first attempt.
“We have to make some adjustments on the defensive line and once we do that we will be fine,” Bargender added. “Our defense bent but didn’t break. Once we had our backs against the wall we were able to get some stops and force some turnovers.”
In the second half the Bluejays defense and special teams locked up the win.
Athens put the game away in the third quarter, as Craig Boyd returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown and Adam Wassman returned a fumble 23 yards for another score to give Athens a bulging 35-7 advantage.
“We think all of our (running) backs have playmaking ability,” Bargender said of Weise, Boyd and Lane Tessmer. “Our special teams was able to make some nice blocks and Craig took advantage and made some good reads.”
Boyd also added two interceptions and also returned another punt for a score that was called back via penalty.
The Bluejays travel to Stiehm Stadium to face Newman Catholic on Saturday in week two. Newman beat Thorp 33-8 Saturday.
A- Daltan Lavicka 9 pass from Connor Ellenbecker (Shane Coker kick)
L- Dylan Much 10 run (Andrew Szymanski kick)
A- Matt Weise 6 run (Coker kick)
A- Weise 45 run (Coker kick)
A- Craig Boyd 72 punt return (kick missed)
A- Adam Wassman 23 fumble return (Ellenbecker run)
Rushing: L: Mitch Pohlman 13-109, Andrew Szymanski 17-99. A: Craig Boyd 10-90, Matt Weise 8-89.
Passing: L: Logan Fulwiler 0-4-2-0. A: Connor Ellenbecker 3-5-1-59.
Receiving: L: none. A: Daltan Lavicka 2-37.
Records: Athens 1-0, 1-0 Cloverwood; Loyal 0-1, 0-1 Cloverwood.