Athens’ Jordan Scott knew it was time for a big play.
The Golden Eagles had just turned back a Decatur threat inside the 5 at the opposite end of the field midway through the final quarter. One more big play for Athens could seal the victory.
The junior quarterback took the snap and watched the left defensive end crash down the line on the fake to the running back.
“I just kept the ball and ran,” Scott said.
He didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line 27 yards away for Athens’ final touchdown of the night in a 27-14 victory over Class 6A, Region 7 rival Decatur.
“It sure felt good to get that touchdown,” Scott said. “This was a hard-fought game and a great win for our program. We just need to keep getting better.”
Athens (2-1, 2-0) is 2-0 in region play for the first time since 2009. Decatur (0-4, 0-2) is winless after four games for the first time since 1966.
The Golden Eagles now have a three-game winning streak over Decatur. The last time Athens beat Decatur three years in a row was in 1980 (7-6), 1981 (7-0) and 1982 (14-0).
“They outplayed us and out-coached us,” Athens coach Cody Gross said. “That’s on me. I didn’t do a good job getting us ready for Decatur.”
Athens beat another big region rival, Hartselle, 28-19, last Friday to break a 13-game losing streak to the Tigers. Athens has not had wins over both Hartselle and Decatur in the same season since 1987.
For Decatur, it was another game with back-breaking penalties and turnovers. The Red Raiders failed to score on two trips inside the Athens 18. One trip moved the ball to the 1 before a holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 12. A fumble on the next play ended the drive.
“The difference between tonight and the last three weeks is that I saw something we can build on,” Decatur head coach Jere Adcock said. “I was proud of how hard we played. We played with heart, and I haven’t seen that this season.”
The Golden Eagles broke out to a lead late in the first quarter that they would not relinquish. Jalen Cates scored on a one-yard run to cap off a six-play, 40-yard drive. The try for two points failed leaving the score at 6-0.
On the first play after the kickoff, Athens’ Tokey Porter intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it for a touchdown. That made it 13-0 with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Decatur answered with a five-play scoring drive. Quarterback Turner Stepp connected with Smith Coon on a 23-yard touchdown play to make it 13-7.
Athens came right back with a seven-play scoring drive that covered 66 yards and ended with Cates scoring from the 2. The 20-7 score stood through halftime.
Neither team scored in the third quarter. Athens’ final drive covered 75 yards in nine plays. Scott’s touchdown came on third and four from the 27.
Scott played wide receiver for Athens last year. When Logan Smothers moved to Muscle Shoals, Scott became the Athens quarterback. He may not yet have a throwing arm like Smothers, but he can run the Athens option offense.
“I feel more comfortable at the position,” Scott said. “I think I have improved each week.”
Decatur’s final touchdown came on a 23-yard pass from Stepp to Reed Hardin with 5:22 left to play to make it 27-14. Decatur recovered an onside kick, but the possession ended with an interception in the end zone.
Decatur travels to Huntsville next Friday to play Lee at Alabama A&M. Athens will be at home against Hazel Green.