ATHENS -- The Athens Hornets closed out the first half of their schedule perfect on the strength of a 35-28 win over the Palestine Wildcats on Friday night at Bruce Field.

The win put Athens at 5-0 heading into an open week, and the Hornets will begin District 15-3A action in two weeks as the only remaining undefeated team in the league. Palestine, playing without leading rusher Ben Luckett a week after getting hammered by Chapel Hill, fell to 3-2.

Palestine never let Athens get too far out of its sights, even when the Hornets held a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Jarrell Owens, a TCU-commit who shared time at running back with Luckett not in the game, returned a kickoff 66 yards for a touchdown with 8:48 to go. The two-point conversion run was successful, trimming Athens' lead to 35-28.

Kendall Gomez then recovered an onside kick seconds later to give the Wildcats the ball at the Athens 45-yard line. The drive stalled eight plays later, and the Hornets leaned on their solid running game to run out the clock.

That solid running game included another career night for Athens sophomore Logan Fuller, who rushed 25 times for 193 yards and a touchdown a week after scorching Rusk for five touchdowns in a 49-0 win last week. Fuller's score against the Wildcats came on a 52-yard run in the third quarter. Fellow sophomore Travon Fuller found the end zone twice, as did junior Devin Hall.

The game was knotted at 14-14 at halftime thanks to the Wildcats' big-play ability. Palestine scored the game's first touchdown on Gee Clark's 28-yard run on fourth down with 5:57 left in the first quarter, and after scoring runs from Hall (from 10 yards out) and Travon Fuller (23 yards), Clark hit Sheldon Watson on a 23-yard touchdown pass – once again on fourth down. Clark then found Bennett Gierkey for the two-point conversion pass to tie the game.

Logan Fuller's 52-yard run broke the tie with 8:03 left in the third quarter, and Hall's second touchdown run of the night, from 22 yards away three minutes later, put Athens up, 28-14. Clark scored his second rushing touchdown late in the third to pull Palestine to within eight, and Travon Fuller's second TD run put the lead at 15 and set up the dramatic final few minutes.

(Lee Loveless,