Athens finds rhythm in shutout
By Ashley Hargrove
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MUSCLE SHOALS — Losing a close game to county rival East Limestone last week left a bad taste in the mouths of the Athens Golden Eagles, who are the defending Class 5A state champions.
So when the Golden Eagles played at Muscle Shoals in a key 5A, Region 8 game, they made sure not to let that happen again. Not only did the Golden Eagles look like a completely different team, they came away with a 34-0 victory.
"We got our feelings hurt last week," Athens coach Allen Creasy said. "But we didn't feel sorry for ourselves. We worked hard all week to fix the mistakes we made. There were some things we didn't do well tonight, but overall, the game went well. I'm proud of the way our guys played tonight."
The game was scoreless at the end of the first period, but a 2-yard run by Chris Caine put Athens on the board first. The extra point by William McCartney was good, giving the Golden Eagles a 7-0 lead with 9:49 left to go before the half.
Athens struck again shortly after, on a 32-yard pass from quarterback Todd Pepper to Trey Brooks to make it 13-0. The extra point kick by McCartney was good, with 5:30 remaining.
"We were much more prepared to play tonight," Creasy said. "We didn't do well defensively at first, but we took the bull by the horns and got in the game and things went our way."
Pepper scored on a 1-yard keeper with 53 seconds left on the first-half clock making it 20-0.
The Golden Eagles got it going again early in the third quarter. Blake Sulcer ran it in from 19 yards to make it 27-0 at 10:08 left to play in the period. Athens scored once more on a 25-yard run by Tyree Malone with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Neither team scored in the fourth.
For the game, Athens finished with 478 yards of total offense.
Pepper passed for 98 yards and rushed for 90 more.
"Winning tonight's region game was the first step in our goal," Creasy said. "Region 8 is tough. We can't afford to give games away. That is something we have stressed to our guys all week. Being 1-0 is better than being 0-1."
Athens will host West Point next week in another region game.
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