By Jonathan Deal
It only took one play for Derek Teague to redeem himself Friday night against West Point. The senior had just muffed a punt that gave West Point the ball near midfield.
Teague stayed on the field, picked his head up, and made a leaping interception on the next play to give Athens the ball back.
Teague scored a few minutes later on a 38-yard touchdown catch and again in the third quarter on an electrifying punt return as Athens cruised to a 49-7 win.
“I knew I had to play the next play,” Teague said. “I couldn’t let myself get down and hurt my team. They encouraged me to make a big play and I did on that next play with the interception.”
Teague’s big plays were one of many on display Friday as Athens put the game away early with long touchdown passes from quarterback Stevie Farmer. The senior got into a rhythm early and never looked back.
Farmer completed 18 of 22 pass attempts for 224 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
“With the playmakers we got, I knew we were able to (score),” said Farmer. “I’m just trying to get the ball to the guys who can make plays. The more progress, the better I think we’re going to get as a team as a whole.”
Athens jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead after Farmer connected with Tarik Malone on a 29-yard score and later on a 24-yard pass across the middle to Harper Ward as time expired in the quarter.
Teague’s interception led to a Shaun Johnson 5-yard touchdown run before Teague caught a ball at the line of scrimmage and scampered down the sideline for another first half score.
West Point failed to score from the 5-yard line on fourth down with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
When the Warriors finally did score late in the game, it snapped a 15-quarter shutout streak by Athens dating back to last season.
Athens proved it was more than just defense with Friday’s passing display. Farmer added another touchdown to Shaquille McLin from six yards out before Teague brought the crowd to its feet once more with his punt return touchdown.
“I saw a lane and my teammates made some big blocks,” said Teague. “Bill (Jonathan Cain), he made the block that let me get through.”
Not to be outdone, teammate Terrance Watkins returned another punt for a score midway through the fourth quarter to put an emphatic stamp on a game dominated by the home team.
West Point finished with 156 yards of total offense compared to 317 from Athens. Shaun Johnson led Athens with seven carries for 39 yards and a touchdown.
Athens (2-0, 1-0) travels to Hartselle (2-0, 1-0) for a pivotal Class 5A Region 8 contest next weekend.