[Joe Ellerson, Athens Daily Review]

FAIRFIELD – The Athens Hornets dropped to 0-2 on the season Friday with an 18-0 loss against the Fairfield Eagles at Eagle Stadium.

The Hornets finished the night with 113 yards of offense against an aggressive Fairfield defense. Fairfield finished with a total of 239 yards of offense.

Athens was led in rushing by Xavius Fulton with 14 carries for 60 yards. JaQuaylon Bowman had 14 carries for 38 yards, Jerquindon Taylor had two carries for 15 yards and Kamion Tanner had four carries for four yards.

Athens played without senior running back Maalik Hall, who was out with an injury as was Jacob Ickes.

“I thought we played extremely hard," head coach Paul Essary said. "I thought we grew up a lot tonight. We didn't get the win and we are not satisfied. I am happy with the fact that we got better, and we took a big step tonight. We had some players that played like a Friday night football player tonight. Fairfield is a great team and they will be in the playoffs."

Fairfield (1-1) led 3-0 on a 28-yard field goal by Erick Rodriguez Reyes with 45 second remaining in the first quarter.

The game stayed 3-0 until the 11:53 mark of the fourth quarter. Zac Barlow hit Cameron Ransom on a 22-yard pass to make the score 11-0 in favor Fairfield with a successful two-point conversion.

The final touchdown came with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Ransom found an opening, and blasted his way 19 yards for the score.

 “I thought the defense played extremely well," Essary said. "It is all about the team and it was a defensive game tonight. I told them that their defense is played lights out and our defense is playing lights out. We have to continue to keep the game at 3-0 at the half. We have to do that on defense and continue to set a tempo and pressure at that point.”

Essary added, with two more games at home before the start of district play, there is room to grow before facing Mabank on Sept. 23.

“We are going to continue getting better," Essary said. "Our goal is to be ready for district play, and we will continue to get better. I feel like we took a large step and we will continue to work hard next week."

The Hornets will try to pick up their first victory of the season next Friday while hosting Red Oak at Bruce Field. Preparation includes a Labor Day practice Monday.

“It is not a holiday for football players,” Essary said. “We are working on Labor Day. We will be practicing bright and early at 7:30 a.m. in full pads. I hope Red Oak takes the day off and we will be trying to get better.”