Athens – Athens and Waverly squared off for one final, gritty, chippy football game this season.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half.
Athens was able to move the ball on occasion, but could not score. They built the longest drive for either team, a 14 play, 47 yard drive. On the drive, the Wildcats marched to the Waverly nineteen before an errant snap forced a seventeen-yard loss. Waverly’s defense held and forced a Wildcat punt to end the drive. Waverly’s defense forced four punts in the half. Ethan Stotler and Aidan Westbrook each intercepted Wildcat passes.
Waverly’s first drive ended abruptly when Keegan Rude intercepted a Wolverine pass. They turned the ball over on downs twice and punted once in the half. Waverly did have the only true scoring threat in the half. Stotler’s interception occurred on the Wildcat side of the field. He returned it sixteen yards to the Athens 18 yard line. When the Wolverine offense was unable to move the ball, Alex Gadow attempted a 35 yard field goal which missed left and short.
At halftime, the score was 0-0.
At the start of the third quarter, the teams exchanged punts with Waverly winning the field position game. Waverly punted 62 yards to the Wildcat goal line. Athens moved the ball out to their 23 yard line before punting it back to Waverly. Waverly began their drive near midfield, on their own 47 yard line.
The Wolverines fed the ball to David Hallett on the drive. Hallett carried the ball five times for 30 yards.
Jalen McCarty added a rush for seven yards and a 16-yard pass reception. Hallett would bull into the endzone on his final carry of the drive. Stotler kicked the extra point and Waverly led 7-0.
Athens began moving the ball again in response to the Wolverine score. They drove 53 yards bolstered by a 23 yard rush from Shane Reid. The Wildcats fumbled on a first and ten from the Waverly eighteen.
Waverly recovered the fumble and snuffed the threat.
The Wildcats forced Waverly to punt on their next possession and tempers on both sides of the field boiled over. The punt play resulted in offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties and an Athens player was ejected by the officials. When the dust, and flags, settled, Athens had a first and ten from their own 18-yard line.
Once again, Athens began to move the ball. Damian Hudson carried the ball seven times on the drive for 30 yards. Reid touched it seven times for 41 yards. The drive was 22 plays and traveled 74 yards.
The Wildcats had a first and goal from the Wolverine six yard line.
But, the Wolverines stopped them there. The Waverly defense was helped by an illegal procedure call.
Even without the call, Waverly only gave up four more yards. They crushed Wildcat hopes when they tackled Shane Reid at the eight yard line as the buzzer sounded.
Waverly head coach Jason Miller credited his defense for not giving up big plays all night. “We did not give up a big play down the field. We worried about players getting down the field or breaking free. We did a pretty good job of containing them. That final drive was incredibly impressive from them. For us to have a goal line stop to end the game is equally impressive. ”
Offensively, Athens rushed for 232 yards and passed for 31 yards. Reid carried the ball 17 times for 120 yards. Hudson had 107 yards on 20 carries. Lister finished the night with seven completions for 31 yards.
Waverly rushed for 117 yards and passed for 59 yards. Hallett rushed 17 times for 73 yards and a touchdown. McCarty had four receptions for 38 yards. Joe Tomasso would finish the game with eight completions for 59 yards.