[By Joe Elerson, Athens Daily Review]

ROBINSON – The Athens Hornets head into the District 8-4A Division I opener on a three-game losing streak.

Robinson walked out of its homecoming game with a 34-20 victory Friday at Rocket Field.

Athens (1-3) had four turnovers in the contest, which head coach Paul Essary said was the defining moment of the game.

“The four turnovers killed us on offense tonight,” Essary said. “Those were effort turnovers with running with the football and running hard. Waco Robinson was stripping the football, and they did a good job of stripping the football. I don't think they ever stopped us as much as we stopped ourselves.”

Robinson (1-3) jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 14 minutes of the game. The first touchdown came with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter.

Rockets running back Isaiah Houston had a six-yard run as Adrian Ceballos booted the PAT good for the 7-0 lead.

The second touchdown came with 3:17 remaining in the opening quarter. Quarterback Mason Cooper found Houston on a 54-yard pitch and catch for the 14-0 lead.

The final touchdown came with 10:12 remaining in the second quarter. Cooper found Noah Richard for the 19-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

“We spot them 21-0 which is starting to look like a habit,” Essary said. “We are giving up some big plays, and things that we just have to concentrate on. We have to continue to work.”

Athens added its first touchdown with 2:25 remaining in the half as freshman Nathan Sims had a 35-yard run for the score. Dakota Anderson booted the PAT good for the 21-7 halftime deficit.

Sims finished the night with 165 yards rushing and one touchdown.

“The inside run game was good tonight,” Essary said. “We could tell early that they were going to try and take away our outside run. They wanted to control Xavius Fulton, which opened up some inside run. Down the stretch, we started catching the football, but it was a little late. We started moving the football, and we will get better.”

In the third quarter, Cooper once again found Richard on a 23-yard touchdown with 4:24 remaining. Ceballos booted the PAT good for the 28-7 deficit.

Richard then scored his third touchdown of the night on a 45-yard touchdown for the 34-7 lead with 10:50 remaining in the game.

Athens scored the final 13 points of the game. Rhejhi Sherfield had a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:28 remaining for the 34-14 deficit.

Fulton then scored the final touchdown with 47 seconds remaining on a one-yard run.

Athens returns to action Friday as they host the Mabank Panthers for homecoming at Bruce Field. Mabank was a 35-14 winner over Ferris at home.

“We are playing Mabank, but the real thing is I am worried about the Athens Hornets,” Essary said. “I am wanting to get our kids focused and ready to play on our homecoming. Everybody wants to win that first district game. Next week starts district, which is a brand new season. Whether you are 0-4, 4-0 or 1-3, it is a new season. Everything starts over next week for District 8-4A.”