Jaalon Brown deserved another shot.
As time was running out in the first quarter, Warren Mott’s senior wideout took a flare pass from Michael Pond to the left side, deked his defender and ran 64 yards into the end zone for the game’s first score … only to have it wiped away due to a holding call.
As time was running out in the second quarter, Mott once again called Brown’s number, and he caught a pass from Pond at midfield, curved and cut, and raced to the end zone … and somebody on the Mott O-line must have learned their lesson — there were no flags this time.
The result? A 72-yard touchdown on the final play of the half, giving the visiting Marauders the lead en route to the 28-7 win Thursday night.
“It was a good play for the team, pass block, and the coaches called the right play,” Brown said. “We weren’t satisfied with the score but we came out and did our thing.”
“That was a huge momentum swing and it changes the tone at halftime a bit,” Mott coach Tom Milanov said. “It allowed our seniors to get after it, and I went a little more passive which just isn’t my style, but it worked out.”
It would be convenient to say Brown’s play gave Mott enough momentum for the victory, but it didn’t happen that way. The Marauders squandered the first possession after halftime with two illegal procedure penalties and two sacks, and had to punt. Athens drove the ball back into the Mott red zone, and looked poised to score until the Red Hawks’ Andrew Yan was tackled for a loss on fourth-and-two by Brown.
He had six catches for 104 yards and a TD, but that wasn’t all. Besides the drive-stopping tackle, Brown also set up the Marauders’ final score by snaring his second interception.
“I was beat on the route,” he said, “but I just let my hops take over and I just got up and got it.”
Milanov saw some positives in the season-opening victory.
“Once the offensive line got going, they were hard to stop,” he said. “Defensively, I was fairly happy overall. We had some blown assignments here and there, but they had a tough time moving the ball on us.”
“They gassed us, especially right there before the half,” Athens coach Josh Heppner said. “There was no reason, absolutely no reason. Our youth got to us a bit in the secondary, there was a breakdown in coverage. Just little mistakes. It’s unfortunate, because we played real tough, but the lack of effort at the end just really got us.”