By Jonathan Deal
Muscle Shoals —
For one half of Friday’s quarterfinal game between Athens and Muscle Shoals, it looked like the first team to score would win.
Muscle Shoals scored first and then three more times during a four minute spell in the third quarter that proved too much for Athens to overcome in a 35-7 loss.
The defeat at Muscle Shoals ended Athens most successful playoff run since 2006 when it won the 5A state championship. It was defense that got Athens to Friday’s third round playoff game and for a half, looked like it might carry them further.
The Golden Eagles shut down everything Muscle Shoals attempted during the first two quarters, limiting the Trojans to 55 yards of total offense and two first downs in the first half.
It was the third quarter that doomed Athens, specifically a four minute stretch when Muscle Shoals scored 28 points on four consecutive plays. Kavonte McDonald started the scoring on a 6-yard run on the home team’s opening possession on of the second half.
An interception set up Muscle Shoals at the 7-yard line where Deven Sullivan scored one play later.
After a quick three-and-out, Sullivan made it 21-0 on a 49 scamper around the Athens defense. A stunned Athens team failed to pick up a first down on the next possession and Muscle Shoals delivered the knockout punch on its next play on a play-action pass to go up 28-0 with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Johnnie Anderson finished the game at quarterback for Athens (9-4) and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Muscle Shoals (12-1) will host Southside-Gasden (13-0) in one of the 5A semifinal games next week.
Check back later for more updates on this game and see Sunday’s print edition for photos and quotes from Friday’s game.