[By Joe Elerson, Athens Daily Review]

MESQUITE -- The Athens Hornets exploded for 537 yards of rushing offense in a 59-36 victory over the Princeton Panthers on Friday at E.H. Hanby Stadium in Mesquite to seal up the bi-district championship.

With the victory, the Hornets improved to 8-3 overall and will see a familiar opponent next week in the area round.

The No. 4-ranked Kennedale Wildcats defeated Dallas Carter 65-26 to set up a rematch of last year's area round contest. The game will be played on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Ennis High School.

“It feels great,” Athens coach Paul Essary said following the game. “I will worry about Kennedale tomorrow and we will enjoy this one tonight.”

Athens senior Logan Fuller finished the night with 26 carries for 206 yards and four touchdowns.

Fuller has 31 touchdowns for the season while surpassing the 2,000-yard rushing mark. He now stands at 2,005 rushing yards through 11 games.

Senior Travon Fuller had 13 carries for 198 yards and one touchdown, while Brandon Boyd had 13 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

Princeton opened up the scoring as Sadavion Matthews caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Colt Collins with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Logan Fuller then scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard run with 5:08 remaining to tie the game at 7. Oscar Rios booted the extra point good.

“The offensive line and running backs did a great job of staying on their blocks and running out their fakes,” Essary said.

In the final 2:20 of the first quarter, the two teams combined for three touchdowns in five offensive plays.

Athens had a 54-yard run and a 51-yard run by Logan Fuller, while Princeton had a 59-yard touchdown run by Collins. Athens went into the second quarter with a 21-14 lead.

In the second quarter, Athens had a three-yard touchdown run by Maalik Hall with 4:12 remaining to give them a 28-14 lead.

Princeton got the game to within, 28-21, as Collins connected with Brandon Talley for an 18-yard touchdown reception with 1:05 remaining.

Athens scored the final points of the half as Rios booted a 37-yard field goal for the 31-21 lead at the half.

“The field goal was big right before the half. I called the timeout at two seconds and they called it at one,” Essary said. “We knew that with their explosive offense that we had to get points every time.”

In the third quarter, the scoring continued for both teams as Athens opened with a 10-yard touchdown run by Brandon Boyd for the 38-21 lead with 9:16 remaining.

Princeton got to within, 38-27, as Philip Mayfield got behind the Athens defense for a 38-yard touchdown with 6:33 remaining.

In the fourth quarter, Athens had a 7-yard touchdown run by Travon Fuller, a 1-yard run by Boyd and a 1-yard run by Logan Fuller for the 59-36 finale.

Essary said he was pleased with the way the team played against Princeton.

“I thought the offense and defense did a great job against the Princeton offense. I knew that we were going to have to score some points,” Essary said. “I am real proud of the kids and the adversity that they fought through. Some of the kids who have never played varsity football played a lot tonight.”