GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Gallia Academy led 7-0 after Logan Allison returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, unfortunately for the Blue Devils it was all down hill from there.
Visiting Athens compiled 492 total yards on its way to a 62-19 victory over Gallia Academy, Friday night at Memorial Field.
The Bulldogs (1-0) answered Allison’s kickoff return with a 3:04, eight-play drive that was capped off by a Trae Williams five yard touchdown run. The snap was low on the extra-point attempt and AHS sophomore Heath Wiseman ran it in for two to give Athens the lead. Williams found paydirt again, this time from one yard out, after a 1:05, five-play drive. Athens led 15-7 after one period of play.
The Blue Devils (0-1) were pinned deep in their own territory near the start of the second after forcing a turnover on downs at the GAHS eight yard line. A fumble on a pass reception that was recovered by AHS set the Bulldogs up just one yard from another score. Junior quarterback Joe Burrow completed a pass to Adam Luehrman for to put the Green and Gold up 21-7.
Gallia Academy’s next drive took over five minutes off the clock and the Blue Devils earned their first three first downs of the game. However GAHS failed to convert on fourth down and Athens regain possession at the Bluudog 38.
A pair of connections from Burrow to Zacciah Saltzman set the Bulldogs up to score again, and once again it was Williams punching it in from one yard out. Gallia Academy had another long drive ended by downs and the Bulldogs claimed a 27-7 halftime advantage.
The Blue Devils forced AHS to punt on its first drive of the second half and GAHS took possession at its own 19 yard line. A 50 yard connection from Wade Jarrell to Wes Jarrell put the Blue Devils inside the red zone for the first time in the game. GAHS fell victim to another fumble and the Bulldogs regained possesion on their own seven yard line.
The ensuing Athens drive was halted when Allison picked off Burrow and retured it to the AHS 13 yard line. It took four plays from there and Wade Jarrell gave the home fans something to cheer about, as he powered through the line for six points.
The home side wasn’t cheering for long however, as on the Athens next play from scrimmage Williams ran 65 yards for the touchdown.
The Blue Devils showed they have some big plays up their selves as well on the ensuing drive, as Wade Jarrell completed a pass over the middle to Allison that senior took 83 yards to the endzone. Gallia Academy was down 35-19 with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter.
Athens again answered with a 2:35, nine-play drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Williams, his fourth score of the game.
The Blue Devils net drive was stopped short when Ryan Luehrman picked off Wade Jarrell’s pass and took it for a touchdown with one second remaining in the third period.
The Bulldogs grabbed another pick-six on the next GAHS drive, this time it was senior Alex Goldsberry intercepting the pass and taking it back for the touchdown.
After forcing GAHS to turn the ball over on downs Athens scored for the final time on a Dahotah Mcfee 71 yard run. The kick by Patrick Thomas was good and the Green and Gold claimed the 62-19 victory over the defending Southeastern Ohio Athletic League Champions.
“That’s a very good football program and we knew coming in it was going to be a shootout,” said first year GAHS coach Wade Bartholomew. “We never got our offense to click fast enough, even though there late it looked like we did it was more desperation.
“They brought the game to us early,” Bartholomew commented. “They maintained their blocks and stayed with them, where as we were kind of one hit wonders. We hit them and just stopped and we have to work on that this week.”
Wade Jarrell was 15-of-35 passing for 230 yards with a pair of interceptions in the game for the Blue Devils. Jarrell also led the GAHS rushing attack with 67 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown.
Eric Ward finished with nine yards on four carries, Wes Jarrell marked eight yards on one rush, Allison carried the ball twice for four yards, while Eli Miller had one rush for two yards.
Allison led the Blue Devils receiving with eight catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. Wes Jarrell finished wiht five grabs for 75 yards, Devin Henry caught one pass for 22 yards, while Reid Eastman caught one pass for one yard.
Burrow was 14-of-21 passing with 165 yards, an interception and a touchdown for the victors. The Athens gound game was led by Williams with 180 yards on 19 carries with four scores. Mcfee rushed 10 times for 123 yards and a TD, Burrow carried the ball seven times for 15 yards, while Wiseman rounded out the AHS rushing total with nine yards on two attempts.
Saltzman led the Bulldogs with four catches for 71 yards, followed by Wiseman with four catches for 27 yards. Adam Leuhrman caught three passes for 21 yards and score, while Ryan Leuhrman caught two passes for 21 yards.
“We have to try to put this game behind us,” said Bartholomew. “I think this summer we had a little bit of a cocky swag and tonight it got smacked in the face. I think we’re going to learn from that and come back.”
Athens held a 20-16 advantage in first downs, and a 492-302 advantage in total yards. The Blue Devils were penalized eight times for 49 yards, while Athens was flagged 10 times for 65 yards. GAHS held a 68-to-59 advantage in plays ran. The Bulldogs fumbled twice but lost neither, while Gallia Academy lost two of its three fumbles. Athens forced eight turnovers in the game, while committing only two.
Athens has now won 10 consecutive regular season games. The Bulldogs have won in each of their last three trips to Memorial Field. The home team has lost six times in a row in this series. Athens is now 8-5 against the SEOAL since leaving the league following the 2007 season. In its last 14 games against the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division the Blue Devils are now 11-3.
It was a rough Friday all over for the SEOAL as Logan fell to Lancaster 57-7 and Portsmouth lost to Lucasville Valley 28-19. Jackson and Warren both play on Saturday night in week one.
It was also a rough night for Gallia Academy’s next opponent, as Rock Hill lost to Minford 40-6. The Blue Devils will host the Redmen Friday night at Memorial field in the second game of their four game home stand to open the season.