Andrew Black + Chapel Hill Eliminate Previously-Unbeaten Athens With 52-26 Bi-District Victory
TYLER -- It turned out the brutal regular-season schedule Chapel Hill endured both during non-district and in the "District of Doom" was the perfect preparation for its playoff opener.
Senior quarterback Andrew Black continued his roll of solid play by accounting for 305 yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 52-26 win over previously-unbeaten Athens on Friday night at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in their Class 3A Division I Region II bi-district playoff.
Chapel Hill (7-4) made it a clean sweep for District 16-3A over teams from 15-3A in the first round of the postseason for the second consecutive year. The Bulldogs will play Crandall (5-5) at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Royse City ISD Stadium in the area round.
Athens, which the enjoyed the first unbeaten regular season in school history, finished 10-1.
Black completed 12 of 18 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed 15 times for a team-high 141 yards and three touchdowns.
"He's a warrior," Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton said of Black. "The leadership skills that he shows, the maturity that he has on and off the field, the way that he picks his teammates up … he's a great kid. We love him to death and it's been fun watching him get better and better every week."
Wesley Thompson added 75 yards on nine rushing attempts, Gabriel Robinson had three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, and Jeffery Minor caught six passes for 61 yards and a score.
Athens, which rolled up 337 rushing yards on the night, had success moving the ball on Chapel Hill for most of the night. But a key play on special teams on the first play of the second quarter helped swing the momentum in Chapel Hill's favor.
Trailing 12-7, Athens lined up to go for it on fourth-and-goal from 3, but a false start penalty forced the Hornets into a 25-yard field goal attempt. Christian Chairez's kick was blocked by Thompson and the loose ball was picked up by defensive lineman Rex Cicero and returned 88 yards to the end zone for an 18-7 lead.
"I didn't know Rex had that much speed, but it was huge," Sitton said. "They marched that sucker all the way down the field and they were looking to put some points on the board, and our kids just came up big. They led the way for big 'ol Rex and he just motored all the way."
Athens had a solid response, marching 75 yards in nine plays. Sophomore fullback Logan Fuller, who finished with 186 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, bullied his way across the goal line from 2 yards to cut Chapel Hill's lead to 18-14.
The Hornets stopped Chapel Hill on fourth down at the Athens 26, but managed just one first down. That gave Black and the Bulldogs' offense enough time to put points on the board before the half. Black's 46-yard touchdown pass to Robinson increased the Chapel Hill lead to 24-14 heading into halftime.
Chapel Hill was back at it in the third quarter after limiting Athens to just one first down its first drive of the second half. Black's 33-yard completion to Robinson helped set up his 1-yard scoring run that capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive and put Chapel Hill in front, 30-14.
"The last week of the football season was our bye week and we got two weeks to study those guys pretty well," Black said of his team's offensive effectiveness against Athens. "We got to watch lots of film and to have two weeks of practice, that helped us a lot."
The teams traded scores on their next two possessions. Athens' Devin Hall scored on a 2-yard run to cut the deficit to 30-20 and Black's 16-yard scoring run and ensuing two-point conversion completion to Robinson increased the Bulldogs' lead to 18.
Anthony Sanders hit Travon Fuller for a 17-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but Chapel Hill responded with a 14-play drive that spanned four minutes and ended with a Ja'Braylon Franklin 4-yard touchdown run for a 46-26 lead. Chapel Hill put the game away with Malik Walker's 63-yard touchdown run with 3:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"It's great to get a win like this," Black said. "Winning a game like this against a 10-0 team will boost our confidence that much more, and get us past Crandall hopefully."
Sanders rushed for 89 yards on eight carries and passed for 66 yards and a touchdown, while Hall added 54 yards and a touchdown on nine rushing attempts for Athens in defeat.
"They do such a great job over there in Athens," Sitton said. "(Head coach Paul Essary) has done such a great job with that program. They've been hard to stop the entire year, and it was hard for us to stop them tonight. We came up with some big plays at crucial downs, but (the extra week) helped tremendously."
Class 3A Division I Region II Bi-District Playoff
Chapel Hill 52, Athens 26
Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler
Athens 7 7 6 6 -- 26
Chapel Hill 12 12 14 14 -- 52
CH--Andrew Black 1 run (kick failed), 10:53.
ATH--Logan Fuller 15 run (Christian Chairez kick), 7:40.
CH--Jeffery Minor 6 pass from Black (kick failed), 4:11.
CH--Rex Cicero 88 blocked field goal return (kick failed), 11:43.
ATH--Fuller 2 run (Chairez kick), 8:20.
CH--Gabriel Robinson 46 pass from Black (kick failed), 1:14.
CH--Black 1 run (kick failed), 6:52.
ATH--Devin Hall 2 run (pass failed), 2:20.
CH--Black 16 run (Robinson pass from Black), 1:35.
ATH--Travon Fuller 17 pass from Anthony Sanders (pass failed), 9:42.
CH--Ja'Braylon Franklin 4 run (Black run), 5:41.
CH--Malik Walker 63 run (kick failed), 3:05.
First Downs 22 26
Total Yards 403 481
Rushes-Yards 51-337 43-317
Passing Yards 66 164
Comp.-Att.-Int. 5-14-0 12-18-0
Punts-Avg. 2-30.0 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-50 5-40
RUSHING--Athens, Logan Fuller 32-186, Anthony Sanders 8-89, Devin Hall 9-54, Ladarius Jordan 1-6, Osbaldo Juarez 1-2. Chapel Hill, Andrew Black 15-141, Wesley Thompson 9-75, Malik Walker 4-64, Ja'Braylon Franklin 5-27, Jesse Mumphrey 6-17, Jeffery Minor 3-(-1), Konnor Hitchcock 1-(-6).
PASSING--Athens, Sanders 5-14-0--66. Chapel Hill, Black 12-18-0--164.
RECEIVING--Athens, Travon Fuller 4-57, Hall 1-9. Chapel Hill, Minor 6-61, Gabriel Robinson 3-75, Lex Heckel 1-18, Franklin 1-6, Blake Mayfield 1-4.