Quality is better than quantity.
Athens’ offense proved that Friday night when, despite having the ball for 20 minutes less than conference foe Wellston, the Bulldogs trounced the Golden Rockets 39-14 behind 381 yards of total offense at R. Basil Rutter Field.
Athens recorded its sixth straight victory and its 10th straight over Wellston.
The Bulldogs (7-1 4-0 Tri-Valley Conference) dominated the Golden Rockets the entire game — even in the first quarter when the Bulldogs only ran one play. Wellston’s offense ran the clock out on itself with long, ineffective drives, while the Bulldogs kept Wellston out of the game with quick explosive plays that ended in points.
“We’ve got big strike capability,” coach Ryan Adams said. “We’re just taking what we’re given.”
The Bulldogs’ defense was given a gift on the first drive when Wellston quarterback RJ Kemp had a pass tipped. The ball landed in Logan Maxfield’s right hand. On the next play, Athens took the lead when quarterback Clay Davis ran through, around and over the Wellston defenders on a 17-yard touchdown.
That touchdown run by Davis was the only play the Bulldogs ran in the first quarter.
Wellston (3-5, 2-2 Tri-Valley Conference) came into Friday’s game determined to run the ball on the Bulldogs, resulting in drives that chewed up enormous amounts of time.
“We came in knowing they’d be a tough team on the ground,” Athens defensive lineman Gauge Penrod said. “But we were too physical for them.”
The battle in the trenches was in Wellston’s favor early in the game. The Golden Rockets put together an 18-play, 84-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run from Rylan Molihan. The drive took 11 minutes off the clock and kept Davis and the Bulldog offense on the sideline for the rest of the first quarter.
“It’s not the greatest feeling when you’re only playing defense,” Davis said. “But you have to keep cool and be ready to go when it’s your time.”
The Bulldogs quickly regained the lead 38 seconds later when Evan Adams scored from 5 yards out.
Athens made sure Wellston didn’t enter the red zone on its next two drives, while Davis widened the Bulldogs’ lead by orchestrating a 97-yard drive over 14 plays that culminated in his second rushing touchdown of the night.
Athens went into the locker room with a 22-8 lead despite having the ball for a third of the time. The Bulldogs weren’t impressed with the way Wellston dominated the time of possession.
“They were just wasting time off the clock,” Maxfield said. “We knew right when we got the ball back we’d score again.”
Athens scored once in the third quarter — a 28-yard field goal by Rider Stock — but sealed the win in the fourth quarter when Davis hit Nate Trainer in stride for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Davis finished 8-of-17 for 175 yards; he had three total touchdowns.
The Bulldogs next game will come against winless River Valley next Friday at home. If the Bulldogs win, it will set up a Week 10 conference title matchup with rival Nelsonville York.
But while a chance at their first TVC-Ohio championship in four years is exciting, there’s nothing more important than the next week to the Bulldogs.
“The next week is always the biggest game on our schedule,” Davis said. “We’ve got to take care of business first.”