Three minutes and 27 seconds.

That’s how long it took Athens to score its first touchdown Friday against Vinton County at R. Basil Rutter Field. 

And ironically enough, as quick as that first touchdown came, it was the longest amount of time it took Athens to score in the first quarter in its homecoming game.

Three more touchdowns in the first quarter ensued, as Athens (4-1, 2-0 Tri-Valley Conference) went on to a 42-13 victory over Vinton County (1-4, 0-2 TVC). 

Following a 24-yard Evan Adams touchdown run to start the game, Vinton County running back Cade Sibner responded with a big run of his own. 

It looked as if no one would catch him, as he exploded through a cloud of Bulldog defenders. Then, Lane Heller and Joey Moore emerged from the pack to chase him down and save the lead for the Bulldogs. 

The Athens defense then showed its might.

With the ball inside the 10-yard line, Gauge Penrod and Evan Steenrod forced a fourth and goal with a pivotal tackle. From there, Justin Hynes tracked down the Vinton County quarterback to record his own sack on an 11-yard loss. 

Athens coach Ryan Adams was quick to point out the significance of those stops. 

“That kind of stuff builds a little bit of character I think for later on in the season when you get into some tougher battles that might be a little closer and tighter than tonight’s,” Adams said. “They showed a lot of perseverance and composure to be able to keep their heads in that situation and really dig into their heels and fight. Those are the things you want to see — that’s for sure.” 

Backed up on their own 16-yard line with less than six minutes left in the quarter, Clay Davis and the Bulldogs needed only 40 seconds to score. A three-play, 84-yard drive was finished off by a 70-yard touchdown pass when Davis connected with Nate Trainer down the Viking sideline.

The two-score lead for Athens turned into a three-score lead 16 seconds later. 

Peyton Gail recovered a Vinton County fumble on the 15-yard line to set up a Logan Maxfield touchdown reception, giving Athens a 21-0 advantage with 5:01 still remaining in the quarter. 

Another Trainer touchdown reception, which finished off a six-play, 57-yard drive, made the score 28-0 at the end of the quarter. 

Davis and his talented receiving core showed off their chemistry in the truest form. 

“I knew (the receivers) had it in them all year,” Davis said. “This was just kind of their coming out party. I knew what we had way back in the summer and I think everybody else just kind of now saw that, but it’s always been there and I always trust them.”

Davis went 13-of-21 through the air, throwing for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Trainer led the receivers with six catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. 

Bulldog kicker Rider Stock went a perfect six-of-six on extra point attempts. It seemed like everything was clicking.

“I was really glad that I decided not to come out with the old fire and brimstone speech and get all of their adrenaline burned out right out of the gate,” Adams said. “I tried to get them pretty level-headed coming out tonight.” 

Adams wanted his team to get off to a better start than it did last Friday at Alexander.

The Bulldogs did so tonight — despite a disruptive lightning delay before kickoff. 

“Not necessarily knowing for sure we were getting a lightning delay, I just wanted them to really be able to come out and execute their assignments,” Adams said. “Sometimes you get these young high school kids’ adrenaline flowing and that can be a difficult thing, so I tried to take a little lower-tempo coming out and they performed very well as a result of that.”

With the victory, Athens moves up to seventh in the latest projected Division III Region 11 rankings, according to Joe Eitel. 

Davis and the Bulldogs aren’t worried about the playoff picture, though, as they continue to carry out their business one game at a time as usual. 

“I was pretty happy with my guys (tonight) and I want to go celebrate with them,” Davis said. 

@j_flann10

jf913115@ohio.edu

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