[By Joe Elerson, AthensReview.com]

ROBINSON – The Athens Hornets were in a dogfight Friday in a 24-21 win in their non-district finale at Robinson.

The Hornets capitalized on a big defensive stop late in the game and drove the ball down the field for a 31-yard game-winning field goal by Christian Chairez.

“I was proud of how we managed the clock there at the end. I know a couple of people were probably nervous there,” Athens coach Paul Essary said. “I said just get us inside the 20 and I knew we would make it. I have faith in Christian to get the job done.”

The Hornets improved to 3-2 overall with the victory. They are open next week and return to action in the District 8-4A opener in two weeks at home against the Van Vandals.

“I go into every game expecting to win. Like I tell people if we don't expect to win there is no reason in work out all week,” Essary said. “I expect us to win every time we get on the football field.”

With the loss, the Robinson Rockets dropped to 0-5 on the season.

“They are now an 0-5 team and I know there is not a better 0-5 team out there,” Essary said. “That is a playoff team and if they keep improving every week they will be in the playoffs. There is no doubt about that. I did not expect anything less out of the Robinson Rockets then what they did tonight.”

The Hornets opened up the scoring in the first quarter as senior Jeremy Bateman blasted his way for 41-yards to give them a 6-0 lead. Athens bobbled the snap on the extra-point with 2:39 remaining.

On the next offensive play, the Rockets took the lead as Chase Allison found Grant Reel on a 65-yard bomb with 2:22 remaining in the opening quarter. Adrian Ceballos booted the PAT good.

The score remained 7-6 until 6:15 left in the third quarter as Allison found Jaeson Martinez on a five-yard touchdown pass. Martinez booted the PAT good to give them a 14-6 lead.

Athens tied the game five minutes later as Logan Fuller powered his way in from a yard out. Fuller converted the two-point attempt to tie the game at 14.

Robinson regained the lead with 11:55 remaining in the game as Allison found Reel for a 12 yard touchdown for the 21-14 lead.

Essary said he was proud of the way his team fought throughout the contest to pick up the victory.

“Our character was tested tonight. It has been since Diboll when we were back and forth in that ball game that our kids have grown up and kept fighting,” Essary said. “We knew that good things would happen if you keep believing in yourself and believing in your teammates and good things did happen.”

With 5:34 remaining in the contest, quarterback Brandon Boyd found an opening and scampered for 32-yards to paydirt to tie the score at 21.

The Hornets gave up three interceptions against the Rockets deep in their own territory throughout the game.

“I am very proud of our kids overcoming three turnovers,” Essary said. “They stepped up and made a couple of plays and we rebounded and made some plays. It was a team effort tonight and we knew we had the routes open tonight. We will get that worked out.”

The Hornets were led by Logan Fuller with 25 carries for 141 yards and one touchdown. Bateman had nine carries for 72 yards and one touchdown, Maalik Hall had three carries for 48 yards and Boyd had five carries for 41 yards and a touchdown.