By Jonathan Deal
HARVEST — It didn’t matter what the records were or the fact that neither team could make the playoffs between Athens and Sparkman Friday. The Golden Eagles enede their season with one of their best performances of the year in a 33-0 shut out of Sparkman.
“I’m proud of these guys for playing hard all season long,” said Athens head coach Allen Creasy. “No matter what the score was, they stayed together. Even though we had no chance of making the playoffs, they kept fighting. Regardless of the record, this will go down as a great football team.”
Johnnie Anderson had another big night for Athens. The junior was a perfect 3 for 3 passing for 40 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. The dual-threat QB carried the ball 12 times for 58 and had just one carry in the second half.
“It felt good to help my team win and send these seniors out with a victory,” said Anderson. “They didn’t defend that flag route. They were wide open on those plays.”
Anderson’s first touchdown came on his first throw of the game when he connected with Shaquille McLin on a 15-yard touchdown mid way through the second quarter to give Athens a 14-0 lead. Derek Teague returned the opening kick 90 yards for a touchdown to put Athens ahead early.
After an Andrea Holt interception gave Athens the ball back near midfield, Anderson led his team down the field and capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Shaun Johnson in the corner of the end zone.
With less than a minute to play in the half, Adam Harvey’s squib kick took a fortuitous bounce and ended up in the arms of teammate Philip Patton. Three plays later and Harvey nailed a career long 47-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
Athens put away any hopes of a comeback on its first drive of the third quarter when Anderson threw his third touchdown, this time to a wide-open Jonathan Pruit on a 23-yard flag pattern.
“I thought we played well on both sides of the ball,” said Creasy. “They were packed in there to stop the run and Johnnie was able to throw the ball and get some big plays in the passing game.”
Anderson and senior linebacker Bolton Patton spearheaded a defense that didn’t allow Sparkman inside the Athens red zone until late tin the game and forced a safety in the fourth quarter for the game’s final points.
The Golden Eagles also benefited from excellent special teams play. Along with Teague’s kickoff return for a touchdown, senior Algernon Watkins added a 34-yard punt return while Harvey was 4 for 4 on extra points. The win was Athens’ second consecutive shut out to close the season. The Golden Eagles finish the year with a 3-7 record. Athens played
“It gives you momentum,” Creasy said about finishing the season strong. “We’ve got a two-game win streak is how we look at it.”