Athens Falls Short in 27-24 Loss to Fairfield
[By Joe Elerson, Athens Daily Review]
ATHENS — The Athens Hornets battled back from a 14-0 deficit in the first four minutes of the game, but could not pick up their second victory of the year against the Fairfield Eagles at Bruce Field.
Fairfield (1-1) took advantage of a late touchdown drive with 4:24 remaining for a 27-24 victory Friday.
“You have to make some stops. My hat is off to Fairfield because they made the plays to keep the clock going when we were down to one timeout,” Athens coach Paul Essary said. “I had to use two because of a helmet come off, and a player with turf in his eye. We were not able to get him back in, and that is just the way that it goes. I thought both teams played hard, and really good tonight.”
The game-winning touchdown came on a five-yard touchdown by Kadarrius Walker. The Eagles went for two, but Athens cornerback Rhejhi Sherfield scooped up the fumble and ran it into the end zone for the 27-24 deficit.
“Fairfield is a good football team with a lot of pride and fight,” Essary said. “They are well coached, and that is why I like playing Fairfield because they are going to get after you. They will play solid and make you win the game. That is what I want to think is that we make you win it, and not just give it to you.”
The Eagles jumped out to the 14-0 lead with a two-yard run by Walker on the second play of the game. Tyler Haynes booted the PAT good with 11:17 remaining in the opening quarter.
On the Eagles next drive, quarterback Kameron Ramson bolted 70 yards to paydirt with 8:14 remaining in the first quarter.
Athens (1-1) then scored 16 straight as Jerquindon Taylor scored his second touchdown of the year. The score was a two-yard run with 48 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Xavius Fulton then scored from 23 yards out less than two minutes into the second quarter to make the score 14-13. The kick failed with 10:52 remaining in the half.
Athens took the lead with no time remaining in the half on a 21-yard field goal by Dakota Anderson.
“I am very proud of their character, and the pride they showed when they were down 14-0 before the paint dried,” Essary said. “They could have folded up, and lost their composure but they stayed in it and came back. They were up 16-14 at the half, and that showed what kind of fight we had.”
In the second half, Fairfield scored the only touchdown of the third quarter with one second remaining as Kolbe Branch powered his way in from the two-yard line. Haynes booted the PAT good for the 21-16 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Fulton scored his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run for the 22-21 deficit. The Hornets went for two, but failed on the conversion.
Fulton finished the night with 26 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
Fairfield had 292 yards of offense against Athens, but committed five turnovers in the game.
Essary said he was pleased with the fight of his defense.
“We had five turnovers on defense. It is tough not to win a game when you get five turnovers in a game,” Essary said. “I am proud of them for taking the ball away and giving us a chance. We are still in progress on offense and need to continue to get better.”
Ransom led the Eagles with 10 carries for 117 yards, while Walker had seven carries for 49 yards.
“I expected them to be just as good as they were tonight,” Essary said. “I thought some things they did were good based on the blocking and the running of those players.”
Athens returns to action Friday on the road at Red Oak. Kickoff for the game is set for 7:30 p.m.
“We will get better next week and regroup and correct the mistakes,” Essary said.