VAN – The Athens Hornets’ winning ways continued Friday night as they clipped the defending District 15-3A champion Van Vandals, 28-23, at Memorial Stadium.

The win puts the Hornets (7-0, 2-0) in the driver’s seat in the district heading into next week’s game against the Mabank Panthers at Bruce Field. The Vandals, who went 9-1 in the regular season and breezed through district without a loss, fell to 1-6 overall and 1-1 in league play.

Logan Fuller, Athens’ super sophomore fullback, inched closer to the 1,000-yard rushing mark with 155 yards on 20 carries. Fuller found the end zone twice to increase his team-leading touchdown total to 14. Fuller’s partner in the backfield, junior Devin Hall, also went over the century mark with 131 yards on 21 carries and a score.

Senior quarterback Anthony Sanders nearly made it three over 100 but fell just short with 84 yards on 13 carries. He, too, scored a rushing touchdown on a night when Athens ran for 401 yards.

The Vandals still made it tough to the final minute, getting a 20-yard touchdown pass from Peter Maddox to Layton Myers with 20 seconds left to cut the lead to 28-23. Van’s ensuing onside kick, however, was recovered by Athens’ Travon Fuller, and the Hornets offense went into victory formation to close out the game.

Fuller opened the scoring for Athens with a 36-yard run at the 2:37 mark of the first quarter to put Athens up 7-0. Van answered five minutes later on a 1-yard run from Matt Savis to cut the lead to 7-6 (Josef Ruiz’s PAT sailed wide right). Savis, one of the top rushers in East Texas, carried the ball nine times on the scoring drive and finished with 140 yards on 29 carries.

The Hornets’ answer came via Sanders’ 1-yard plunge with 55 seconds left before halftime, capping an 80-yard drive that increased the Athens lead to 14-6. Ruiz tacked on three more as the halftime buzzer sounded with a 40-yard field goal to pull Van to within five.

Fuller’s second touchdown run, a 12-yarder, put Athens ahead 22-9 with 6:02 left in the third. Van responded with a 13-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Maddox hitting Myers on a 14-yard pass that left the Athens lead at 22-16. The Hornets added to that lead on a 7-yard run by Devin Hall to give his team a 28-16 advantage that held up until Maddox and Myers connected with under a minute to go.

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Athens 28, Van 23

Van Memorial Stadium

Athens                 7  7  8  6 -- 28
Van                      0  9  7  7 -- 23
First Quarter
ATH Logan Fuller 36 run (David Cedillo kick), 2:37.
Second Quarter
VAN–Matt Savis 1 run (kick failed), 10:16.
ATH–Anthony Sanders 1 run (Cedillo kick), :55.
VAN–FG Josef Ruiz 40, :01.
Third Quarter
ATH–Fuller 12 run (Fuller run), 6:02.
VAN–Layton Myers 14 pass from Peter Maddox (Ruiz kick), 1:08.
Fourth Quarter
ATH–Devin Hall 7 run (pass failed), 10:16.
VAN–Myers 20 pass from Maddox (Ruiz kick), :20.

                                       ATH                VAN
First Downs                          25                   21
Total Yards                          427                 351
Rushes-Yards                 61-401            40-148
Passing Yards                       26                 203
Comp.-Att.-Int.                  1-4-0          17-31-0
Punts-Avg.                           0-0            4-36.2
Fumbles-Lost                        4-3                0-0
Penalties-Yards                    7-45              9-52

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING—Athens, Logan Fuller 20-155, Ladarius Jordan 6-33, Anthony Sanders 13-84, Devin Hall 21-131, Travon Fuller 1-(-2). Van, Matt Savis 29-140, Peter Maddox 9-6, Deundre Johnson 2-2.
PASSING—Athens, Sanders 1-4-0--26. Van, Peter Maddox 17-31-0--203.
RECEIVING—Athens, Chris Jefferson 1-26. Van, Layton Myers 5-57, Luke McGowan 2-33, Kendrick Jones 7-89, Brock Moore 1-11, Caleb Ross 1-3, Savis 1-10.