By Garrett Willis
CANTON – Canton came out Friday night hoping to upset the visiting Athens Hornets (5-0). Athens, on the other hand, had different plans, defeating the Eagles 50-26.
Athens’ offense, which had scored a total of 157 points coming into Friday night, got off to a slow start in the first quarter. The only points that stood on the board for Athens at the end of the first quarter was a safety courtesy of a bad snap on a Canton 4th and 13 punt attempt.
In the second, the Hornets took advantage of another Canton miscue, blocking a punt on the Eagle’s own 11-yard line.
Just two short plays later, sophomore running back, Logan Fuller, took it to the house on a 7-yard carry.
It didn’t take long for the Hornets to get rolling after that, after Canton fumbled on the kickoff return, Athens had the ball again on the Eagles’ 40-yard line. The Hornets wasted no time, racking up another 6 points on the Eagles defense on a 13-yard run by Devin Hall.
The Canton offense struggled throughout the first two quarters, but did find a rhythm towards the end of the half. After connecting with Brad Wiggins for a 22-yard gain on Canton’s fourth offensive drive of the game, quarterback Chandler Eiland rallied his troops at their own 43-yard line. Eiland would complete three more passes, before turning the ball over on downs on Athens’ 25.
Canton’s defense, led by Gabe Gomez, played great during the first half, forcing three fumbles to keep the game close. One of those fumbles, would eventually translate into a 90-yard touchdown run by Chandler Eiland ran in a 90-yard touchdown. The ensuing PAT was blocked, giving Athens a 16-6 lead heading in the second half.
The Hornets got the ball to start the third quarter, but the drive didn’t last long thanks to strong play from defensive end Sam Miller, who had two tackles for loss and forced the Athens offense to punt.
The Hornets defense continued to stymie the Eagle offense, playing well and giving the ball back to their offense in less than a minute of game play. Athens’ Logan Fuller scored on a 2-yard run moments later, upping the Athens lead to 22-6.
Canton was unable to find the scoreboard on its next possession, returning the ball back to Athens. After driving his team down the field, Hornets quarterback Anthony Sanders put the game out of reach on a 13-yard touchdown run, making the score 30-6.
Canton’s offense seemed to have momentum on its next drive, picking up big yardage on a 27-yard Eiland to Jarred Grace pass completion, but another Eagle turnover, this time an interception by Barrett Sevyckyi, put the Hornets on the doorstep of another score. Sanders connected with Nic Fincher on a 6-yard strike, giving the Hornets a 37-6 lead.
Once Canton’s offense got back on the field, Eiland found Wiggins who took it to the end zone to cut the Hornet advantage to 37-14.
The Eagles attempted, and recovered, an onside kick to set Canton’s offense up on the opposite 40-yard line. Just a few plays later, Eiland scored again on a quarterback keeper from 15-yards out.
After trading possessions, and another Athens score, Canton found the end zone again on an Eiland to Wiggins.
The Hornets would score one final time in the game, giving them a 50-26 win over the Eagles.
Chandler Eiland finished the night with 275 yards in the air, 88 on the ground and four total touchdowns. Athens’ leading rusher, Logan Fuller, ended with over 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Canton will travel to Mabank text week to try to improve their district record to 1-1. The game will be in Mabank, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Eagles can’t stop red-hot Hornets in district opener
By Garrett Willis