WESTFIELD — The Athens Wildcats collected their first win of the season with a convincing 55-21 victory over the host Cowanseque Valley Indians Friday night.
CV won the toss and elected to defer. The Cats scored on their first play via a 78-yard Damian Hudson scamper into the end zone.
However, CV responded with a 15-play drive starting at their own 16-yard line, culminating on a fourth-down-and-eight pass play from the Athens 15-yard line. The PAT was no good and Athens led 7-6 with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for Athens to strike back. Hudson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Athens 35 and on the second play from scrimmage took off on a 56-yard run to the Indians’ 9-yard line. One play later, Athens’ Shayne Reid struck paydirt with a nine-yard run to put the ‘Cats ahead 14-6 with 3:02 left in the first.
Cowanesque Valley’s second drive stalled after receiving a costly holding penalty, and Athens took over at the CV 30.
On a fourth and inches at the CV 15, Athens QB Mason Lister ran a successful QB sneak to the CV 4-yard line, and one play later Reid had his second TD of the night with a 4-yard TD run putting the Cats ahead 21-6 with 10:03 left in the half.
CV’s next drive stalled at midfield after going for it on fourth down and Athens took over with 8:38 remaining. Lister connected with Keegan Rude on a 32-yard pass completion to the CV 13, and on the next play the Cats’ Caleb Nichols took it in on a 13-yard run putting the Cats up 28-6 with just under 8 minutes left.
CV’s senior QB Seth Huyler took control of the Indian offense, leading them on a six-play drive that took just over 2 minutes, connecting with Kole Hurler on a 15-yard pass play. The 2-point conversion was good, and CV cut the Cats’ lead in half, 28-14 with 5:35 left.
Cowanesque Valley attempted an on-sides kick, but the ball went out of bounds, and Athens took over with excellent field position at their own 43-yard line. It took the Cats’ just four plays to score with Hudson running for a 34-yard gain, Lister completing a 16-yard pass to Rude, and Hudson carrying it in from 7-yards out to give the Cats’ a 35-14 lead at halftime.
The Indians received the ball to start the second half and effectively marched down the field, compiling an eight play drive that culminated with a successful fourth down pass from Huyler to Tanyan Brown cutting the lead to 35-21.
However, every time CV scored the Cats responded, this time with a 5-play drive, all runs, and capped off with Reid’s third touchdown run of the night. The 2-point conversion run by Hudson was good and the Cats’ lead grew to 43-21 with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was all Athens with Lister hitting a TD pass to Rude with 6:53 remaining and Caleb Nichols rounding out the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run with just over a minute left in the game.
Coach Young had this to say after the game
“All that really matters is the scoreboard at the end. The kids did some really good things. Our running game, especially the first half or so, we executed really well. We didn’t turn the ball over which is a bonus. We’ve been killing ourselves with turning the ball over. We just gotta get better. We keep making mistakes and we have room for improvement, but we did a lot of good things tonight. We didn’t give up big plays which is one of our goals. We put a lot of points on the board against a team that is clawing and scratching to be better and they were better tonight than they’ve been the past two weeks no doubt about it.”
“We have Wyalusing next week on a Thursday night. We got a great weekend in the Valley next week with football Thursday, Friday and Saturday. To me that’s an awesome weekend when people in the Valley can see high school football three nights in a row that’s pretty special and we get to start it off Thursday night against Wyalusing.”