OPINION: Hornets falter late against Rusk

·2 min read

Sep. 10—If only the Athens Hornets, who had done some many things right on Jim Swink Field in Rusk Friday night, had remembered to slam the door the home team might not have stolen away a victory.

As it was the Eagles scored the final 17 points of the game to win 45-42 and send the Homecoming crowd home celebrating. The clincher was a field goal by Abraham Rosales with six seconds remaining.

"I thought it was a good football game," Coach Zac Harrell said. "I feel like it's one we definitely should have won."

The Hornets' offense kept rolling most of the night, and the defense made some key stops in the middle quarters to help the team lead by 14 on three occasions. Down the stretch, turnovers, coupled with a hot hand by Eagles quarterback Aiden McCown proved their undoing.

"I challenged the kids and told them, we've got to do a better job of responding to a little adversity," Harrell said.

The two teams traded scores early. Athens notched the first touchdown on a 12-yard run by Jamauri Manning to close a 72 yard drive. After Rusk answered, Manning added a second touchdown from a yard out. The score was set up by a 44-yard toss from Ty Arroyo to Jaden Crane.

Arroyo broke a 14-14 tie with 15-yard scoot in the second quarter. Up 21-14, the Hornet defense sacked McCown, giving the offense a chance to widen the lead with Manning scoring his third touchdown from one yard away.

Athens was up 28-14 entering the third when a drive engineered by McCown cut the difference to seven.

The Hornets had another 14 point edge shaved in half by the offensive play of the game. Backed up in this own end of the field McCown heaved a missle downfield hitting Brailen Trawick in stride for the 69-yard score.

Athens' quarterback Arroyo was injured in the fourth quarter forcing Jaxson Stiles to run the show at quarterback. The Hornets continued to run the ball well despite the change and Stiles just missed on a long pass that overshot Jorien Ray.

Athens falls to 2-1 after the loss and returns to Bruce Field for Homecoming, Sept. 23.