Athens’ Running Attack Impresses + Hornets Tie Fairfield In First Scrimmage
ATHENS -- Logan Fuller hit a hole between the left guard and left tackle, shed three tackles and ventured out to the left sideline with a handful of defenders from one of the state's perennial programs chasing.
He went for 34 yards, and Athens was cooking during the live portion of Friday's scrimmage against Fairfield at Bruce Field. Six plays later, he drove it in from two yards out for the go-ahead score.
Fuller and his offensive backfield mates, running out of a wing offense, are the answer to the notion there's some talent gap preventing them from adopting the most modern offense.
Fairfield struggled to stop them in an all-around draw between the two teams' starters following a controlled scrimmage ensuring all sides of the ball got an adequate number of reps and a real 12-minute quarter with a running clock.
"Our offense is our best defense a lot of times," head coach Paul Essary said. "Especially against a good team like Fairfield that wants to go high-tempo and fast paced. We're going to see the same thing against Henderson in Week 1. We like to try to keep opponents off the field as much as we can. Our goal is 3.5 yards per play. Really, if you're giving us three, we'll go for it on fourth down on fourth-and-1."
If Athens' starters made their goal of 3.5 yards each play, they would have finished the whole event with 154 yards.
The unit recorded 288 yards as part of a 12-12 tie during the controlled segment and a 7-7 decision in the live scrimmage.
Extra points were not allowed during the controlled phase.
And -- granted he had two of Athens' touchdowns -- Fuller was only 86 yards of it since the coaching staff already knows what it's working with. He got there on 13 carries.
Five other runners combined for 143 more yards and an additional score on 21 carries against Fairfield's starting defense.
"My linemen did a great job tonight," Fuller said. "We had a game plan figured out and knew coming into the huddle that were going to pound it down on them. That's what we did."
Quarterback Brandon Boyd threw for 59 yards and ran for another 36, including a one-yard touchdown dive. Receiver Travon Fuller, a senior Texas A&M defensive back commitment, accounted for 44 of the receiving yards while also taking four sweeps for 25 yards.
Like the old ball coach said, the Fairfield program is pretty good. It retained five defensive starters from a team that reached the Class 4A Division II area round before running across Gladewater and falling, 34-16.
The Hornets' defense also performed well against a spread offense unit almost completely intact from the past campaign. It allowed 264 total yards and three touchdowns.
Fairfield's score in the live quarter came on a deflected pass.
Another touchdown followed a pass interference call against the Hornets on fourth-and-goal from the 19-yard line as Athens worked its way to 65 penalty yards in the controlled scrimmage.
The live quarter is more heavily weighted since it incorporated all aspects of the game.
Quarterback Brandon Boyd called his own number on the very first play of the quarter and went 15 yards. Logan Fuller then ripped the 34-yard gainer after breaking tackles on a simple run.
Boyd took the next carry for 12 more yards to set Athens up in the red zone.
Travon Fuller elevated the threat to a first-and-goal situation from the Fairfield 2-yard line with a six-yard sweep two plays later. Logan Fuller capped the 70-yard drive the next play with a two-yard run.
The drive took 4:53 off the clock.
A fumble on Fairfield's first snap and a false start penalty put the Athens defense in a great third-and-16 situation. Fairfield converted with a 19-yard pass.
Travon Fuller, playing cornerback, tipped the next passup , but a Fairfield receiver came down with it for an easy 57-yard catch-and-run score with 2:03 to play.
"It hurt," Travon Fuller said. "I tried to swat it down, but it was just lack of coverage. I got caught sleeping. I've just to learn from it. We've got to work on all the mistakes. We all did good at points today. We've just got to pick up where we didn't and get better. That's what the scrimmages are about.
Athens netted 10 yards on its ensuing drive before the whistle for a total of 80 yards in 12 real-life minutes.
The Hornets will visit Red Oak next week for a second scrimmage before opening the season with Henderson on Aug. 28.
"I'm real pleased with our effort," Essary said. "I thought we were physical at times. We need to get more physical every play. Some of our younger players, I felt like were played real good tonight and with a comfort. They played at game speed against a real good Fairfield team."