By Rob Phraner

For The News Courier

ATHENS – Athens scored two quick touchdowns in the first four minutes of the game and then held on to defeat J.O. Johnson 21-18 Friday night in the Class 5A north semifinal. Athens advances to play Eufaula in the Super 6 Friday at 7 p.m. in Legion Field.

“This is game you expect in a semifinal matchup,” Athens coach Allen Creasy said. “This is a game you hope for. You want to play in a good game and win a good game to play for the state championship. This is a game you will always remember.”

Athens scored early when by driving 68 yards in five plays on its first possession. Robert Brown scored from four yards out and Matt Jackson kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Johnson quarterback David Isabelle turned the ball over in the next series. Jeff Leonard intercepted his pass and returned it 33 yards to the 2-yard line. Brown scored his second touchdown on the next play.

“I was looking for a run but read the pass and tried to take it back to the end zone,” Leonard said.

Creasy said that interception put Athens in position to win. Johnson coach Harold Wells agreed. “Athens took control in the first half,” he said. “My kids came back well, but we lost a good game.”

Johnson scored later in the first quarter on a 44-yard run by Jontavious President, cutting the lead to 14-6. The extra point failed.

Athens posted the only points of the second quarter. Ferrell Williams burst up the middle and ran for 27-yard touchdown.

Johnson went on a 15-play touchdown drive to open the second quarter. Isabelle found President in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion failed. “Isabelle made some throws that he had to put the ball in one spot and that’s where it went,” Creasy said.

Athens fumbled the kick-off and Johnson had the ball with momentum. The Jaguars scored in less than a minute on 2-yard rush from senior DeAngelo Jones.

“In the second half we kept battling,” Coach Creasy said. “We’ve been in worse situations before. We didn’t want to just hold onto the lead.”

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