LOGAN — The last time Athens had beaten Logan on the road, coach Ryan Adams had just graduated high school.
But the Bulldogs changed that narrative on Friday night, when they defeated the Chieftains on the road for the first time since 1990 with a 21-14 victory.
After jumping out to a 21-point lead, Athens had to depend on its defense to survive a second-half rally.
“Any time you play a rival like Nelsonville-York or Logan, it’s going to be a ball game,” Adams said.
The rivalry between the schools lost some of its luster when Athens left the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) for the Tri-Valley Conference, but since the teams are playing consistently again, the rivalry could be on its way back.
“I think that now that we’ve played them for two consecutive years, our players certainly have a better understanding of the rivalry,” Adams said.
But even though the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-0 Tri-Valley Conference) understood the rivalry, winning the game was difficult from the first drive.
On that drive, quarterback Clay Davis threw an interception to Logan’s Tyler Cummin. The Chieftains (1-5), however, couldn’t do anything with the football, resulting in a scoreless first quarter.
But Athens has made a reputation of putting together a string of scoring drives in the second quarter, and trend continued against Logan. Athens scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, starting with a 16-yard touchdown run from Evan Adams.
The Bulldogs got the ball back quickly and marched down the field again. On a third down play, Davis dropped back, rolled out, cut inside and outside before barreling into the endzone for his first touchdown of the night.
Even though Athens didn’t need the help, Logan’s mistakes continued to aid the Bulldogs. On a fourth down, an Athens’ punt bounced off a Chieftain shoulder into the arms of a Bulldog special teamer.
Athens made Logan pay for its mistake when a few plays later, Davis hit Logan Maxfield in the end zone, putting the Bulldogs up 21-0 at halftime.
The second half was a different story, though.
Athens was unable to move the ball. The Bulldogs dropped passes and missed opportunities. Logan slowly gained momentum.
The Chieftains finally scored in the third quarter when Logan quarterback Braeden Spader hit receiver Laden Little on a 5-yard slant, which after a broken tackle, turned into a 61-yard touchdown.
After recovering a Logan fumble, Athens had the opportunity to stretch the lead to three possessions, but its field goal attempt was blocked. Spader hit Little on a big reception that got the Chieftains to Athens’ 4-yard line. But another Logan fumble ended up in the hands of Athens’ linebacker Mikel Casteel.
“We were in a slump beginning of that quarter, and the fumble recovery brought us out of that slump,” Casteel said. “I felt like that helped lead us to victory.”
It would still take another quarter to secure the win. Athens' offense was still ineffective moving the ball, so the defense had to bend against the Logan’s offensive pressure. The Bulldogs finally broke with 3:44 left in the game, when Spader hit Little again for a 28-yard touchdown.
But then all Athens had to do was get a few first downs and run out the clock.
The Bulldogs sprinted off the field, thrilled about their win. Although the rivalry meant a little more in the past, they knew that they had accomplished something special.
“I’ve played these guys since I was in third grade football,” Casteel said. “I’m glad to make the older guys who’ve played before us happy.”
Athens was successful on its first stop of a two-week road trip. The Bulldogs will look to extend their four-game win streak when they travel to River Valley next week. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.