[By Joe Elerson, Athens Daily Review]

ATHENS — The Athens Hornets continued the streak of victories over the Brownsboro Bears with a 32-13 win at Bruce Field on Friday night.

The Hornets have won the previous two contests dating back to a 55-20 victory in 2012, and a 56-13 victory in 2013. A 32-30 victory in 2011 was the last time Athens did not make the playoffs.

Athens (2-8 overall, 2-4 in District 8-4A play) sent eight seniors out with a victory in their final game at Bruce Field. Those seniors are Noah Bush, Maalik Hall, Jesse Giles, Jacob Ickes, Michael Leon, Shemar Willis, Taylor Carson and Zach Carson.

“It is great and these guys dedicated themselves to the program this year,” Athens coach Paul Essary said. “The seniors will have memories of a lifetime. I told them to make sure you play so hard that you will remember this forever, and they did. We asked the underclassmen to play for the seniors because one day they will be asked to have them play for them and they sold out.”

The victory over the Bears put an end to Brownsboro's season as Crandall defeated Mabank, 20-13, in Crandall. With that victory, the Pirates wrapped up the fourth seed heading into the playoffs next week.

Coach Jason Hooker's team wraps up the year with a 2-8 record and 2-4 in district play.

Essary said that was big when it comes to the district standings as the Hornets finished in a three-way tie for fourth with Crandall and Brownsboro.

“That was big because we just lost out on points and that is a good learning lesson for the kids,” Essary said. “I am proud of them for that and we were not going to finish fifth. A win in the finale kick starts the program into the offseason and shows the kids what they can do when they try and play together.”

In the victory, Brownsboro senior Clayton Orr opened up the scoring with a 27-yard pass from senior Jamal Bell. Luis Suarez booted the PAT good with 7:53 remaining in the first half.

On the ensuing drive, Athens junior quarterback Xavius Fulton blasted his way for a 65-yard touchdown with 6:59 remaining. The Hornets missed the PAT for the 7-6 deficit.

Brownsboro regained the lead with 5:18 remaining as sophomore Saul Williams scored on a six-yard run to give them a 13-6 lead.

The Hornets then scored 26 unanswered points between aggressive running from Bush and backup quarterback Javiry Bowman.

With 44 seconds remaining in the first half, Bush scored his first touchdown of the game on a one-yard run. Dakota Anderson booted the PAT good to tie the game at 13.

In the second half, Bush added a three-yard run with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter. He wrapped up the scoring with 3:59 remaining in regulation on a 14-yard run.

Bowman gave Athens a 25-13 lead with a 20-yard run with 7:24 remaining in the game for the 25-13 lead.

Essary said he was pleased to see the Hornets rush for 415 yards of total offense. The Hornets were led by Bush with 23 carries for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Fulton had five carries for 77 yards, freshman Jerquindon Taylor had eight carries for 72 yards and Hall had six carries for 42 yards.

“That is Hornet ball right there,” Essary said. “Our offensive line will be fun to watch them next year. They have learned how to get more physical each week, and I am proud of them as a young line. Xavius and Maalik and Noah run hard all of the time. I am proud of how Javiry came in and played halfway through the second quarter and the second half at quarterback. He did a great job and we are going to hope everything is going to be fine with Xavius, and I am sure it will be.”

Williams led the Bears with eight carries for 123 yards, while Bell was held to 18 yards on nine carries. Bell was 5-of-17 passing for 81 yards with one interception.

“All we talked about was playing the best that we can the last game this week,” Essary said. “I always ask our kids to make sure the last game is your very best. They played the best game of the year tonight.”

Essary said as he looks back on the season, he knows his young team improved throughout the year.

“I just wish that we could be going to the playoffs,” Essary said. “The only thing that would make this sweeter would be getting the chance to play next week. The guys executed and played together and they made things happen. I am very proud of them and I love them to death. I am so proud the seniors got to go out in their last game on Bruce Field with a win.”