Updated Tue, Sep 24, 2013 4:58 pm
In a game weighted with substantial playoff implications, the Athens Bulldogs remained perfect as they topped the Jackson Ironmen in captivating manner Friday, 49-0.
With the scent of homemade kettle corn in the air, the Athens captains started the night off on a positive note, winning the coin toss and electing to receive. On Athens’ first play from scrimmage, the Jackson defense enforced a statement, sacking junior quarterback Joe Burrow.
That did not sit well with Burrow.
Despite being backed up, Burrow managed to convert on a third and long by hooking up with junior wide receiver Ryan Luehrman for a 14-yard gain. The very next play, junior running back Trae Williams took off down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown run, putting the Bulldogs on top, 7-0.
The Bulldogs (4-0) stole the momentum when their defense hit the field.
It took the Ironmen a mere five plays before they committed their first mistake. While at midfield, Ryan Luehrman jumped on a loose ball in a dog pile, and before the refs granted possession to the Bulldogs, Burrow emphatically ran onto the field pointing Athens ball.
Burrow then took matters into his own hands. After shaking off defenders for an electrifying 19-yard run, Burrow used his arm to find sophomore wide receiver Zacciah Saltzman for a 12-yard touchdown. to put Athens up, 14-0, with 6:47 to go in the first quarter.
Last year, it took the Bulldogs 15 straight points to rattle off a comeback win against the Ironmen, 21-14. This year, Athens led Jackson 21-0 at the close of the first quarter.
Four plays into the second quarter, Jackson committed their second turnover of the game, turning the ball over on downs at the Athens 22-yard line. The play started a series of excessive turnovers.
Over the course of four plays, the two teams combined for three turnovers, which tired defenders running on and off the field. Eventually, Athens established possession and faced a third-and-12, which resulted in Burrow finding Luehrman for a big first down.
The defensive players on the sideline sighed in relief and immediately walked to get water.
The second quarter was then a back-and-forth battle of defenses with the Ironmen looking to reduce the deficit before halftime. However, Athens had something else in mind.
Backd up deep in his own territory with 39 seconds left in the half, Burrow went up top to Luehrman for a 94-yard touchdown, giving the Bulldogs the 28-0 lead heading into halftime.
Athens’ defense showed why they are one of the top defenses in the TVC, posting the shutout and dropping their season points-allowed margin to seven points per game.
Burrow finished the night 15-of-20 for 334 yards and three touchdowns, while Luehrman caught six balls for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Williams had a team-high 145 yards rushing and found painter four times.
With the win, Athens remains perfect and atop the TVC-Ohio, while Jackson (2-2) drops their second consecutive game in disappointing fashion.
Athens is back in action Sept. 27, when they head to Proctorville to take on the Fairland Dragons (2-2) in a non-conference matchup. Jackson hosts Division V opponent Wheelersburg (4-0) next week.