By: The Review | Towanda Daily Review | September 29, 2017
WILKES-BARRE — Athens put four touchdowns on the board in the game's first 11 minutes, led 34-0 at the half and eased home with a 41-6 win over G.A.R Thursday night.
"Our offensive line dominated in the first half, just dominated," Athens coach Jack Young said. "We just got sloppy and lost a little focus (at times), but overall, when you make a long trip like this and get a good "W" — and this is a good "W" — I'm just super proud of the kids."
The game went south for G.A.R. on the opening kickoff. Athens' Dawson Leiser delivered a jarring hit on Grenadiers return man Tai'Wan Bradley, sending the ball flying backward. Barry Keene pounced on that ball and Athens set up at the G.A.R. 20-yard line. One snap later, Zack Jayne was in the end zone with a 20-yard TD run down the right sideline. Aric Westbrook drilled the PAT for a 7-0 Athens lead with the game just 14 seconds old.
Jayne added touchdown runs of 77 and 25 yards the next two times Athens had the ball, the latter at the end of a five-play drive, the most plays in any of the Wildcats' four first quarter possessions. In fact, Athens fourth "possession" started at the G.A.R. 12 after the punter couldn't handle the snap and was dropped at the 12-yard line. One Jayne run took care of the rest.
After a series of punts, Athens started its final drive of the half at its 35-yard line. Every one of the eight plays was a Jayne run, the last a hard-fought 1-yard run with 52 seconds left in the half. The snap on the PAT was high, leaving Athens to try to throw for two. That effort proved fruitless.
That and another missed PAT kick were about the only things that didn't go Athens' way on a night in which Jayne carried the ball 20 times for 206 yards and five touchdowns.
G.A.R. started launching the ball after the TD and got to Athens' 4-yard line before time expired.
Athens' opening possession ended in disaster as, on the eighth play of the drive, a punt snap went over the punter's head. The Grenadiers took over at Athens' 32-yard line. A Ronald Peguero to Will Johnson pass put the ball at the 4-yard line. Three plays later Peguero ran in from the four to make it 34-6 with 6:01 left in the third.
The Grenadiers had one more good drive, marching from their 33-yard line to Athens' 21, but a 5-yard loss and a penalty, followed by back-to-back incomplete passes ended that threat.
With Damien Hudson taking over for Jayne in the backfield, the Wildcats went 69 yards in eight plays with Hudson getting the last nine. Westbrook hit the kick and, with 7:55 left in the game, the clock started winding.
Peguero led G.A.R., hitting 10 of 17 passes for 152 yards. Malachi Williams had three receptions for 66 yards.
Kaden Rude hit three of five passes for 43 yards.
The Wildcats take on Holy Redeemer, another Wilkes-Barre based team, next Friday at 7 p.m.