Recap: Athens Advances to State Final Four With 52-20 Win Over DeSales

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before; the Athens offense is really, really good.

The Bulldogs (13-0) defeated the St. Francis DeSales Stallions (10-3), 52-20 on Friday in the Div. III Regional Final of the OHSAA State Tournament.

The Bulldogs lost in this round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons but the boys from The Plains would not be denied this year.  The offense came out on fire right from the opening kickoff, with Bulldog quarterback Joe Burrow rushing for a 58-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game, which gave Athens a 7-0 lead just 53 seconds in.

The Stallions’ offense is no slouch though, having averaged 31.5 points per contest in the regular season.  The DeSales triple-option offense was able to march down the field thanks to junior running back Jake Gilmore and senior quarterback Jake DeLozier. 

The Stallions tied the game up 7-7 thanks to a one yard rushing TD by DeLozier. As a team, DeSales ran for 278 yards and DeLozier passed for 127 yards. 

However, that would be as close as this one got.  On Athens’ second offensive possession, Burrow once again channeled his inner Trae Williams and added another long rushing touchdown, this time from 41 yards, to give the Bulldogs a 13-7 lead.  Burrow ran for 135 yards on only five carries with the two touchdowns.

Athens and DeSales then traded touchdowns to start the second quarter, scored by Williams and DeSales receiver Mikey Wade, and the score was 19-14.  From there, though, the Bulldogs completely took control.

DeSales fumbled away their next possession, which the Bulldogs capitalized on by scoring on a Joe Burrow pass to Adam Luehrman.  Athens intercepted DeLozier’s pass on DeSales’ next possession, which led to another Athens touchdown.

DeSales then muffed the ensuing kickoff and the ball was recovered by the Bulldogs, which led to, let again, an Athens touchdown. 

Burrow threw three touchdowns during the second quarter run and finished the night 23-29 for 319 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Burrow also completed the trifecta when he caught his own batted pass and ran it in for a 5-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs took a 39-14 lead into the break and wouldn’t look back from there.  DeSales would add another touchdown in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get out from the ditch they were in. 

With their 39 points tonight, Athens moved into second place on the all-time scoring list in Ohio and need 60 more points to be the highest scoring team ever.

The Bulldogs play St. Vincent-St. Mary’s next Friday in the State Semifinals.  The place and time are to be determined.