In the opening game of the 2014 football season, the Athens Drive Jaguars faced off against the J.H. Rose Rampants, a team that played in last year’s Eastern Regional 4A Finals, and looked as if the team out of Greenville didn’t skip a beat.
Rose finished with 641 total offensive yards en route to a 54-21 victory over the home standing Athens Drive Jaguars.
“We fought till the end,” Athens Drive head coach Chris Martin said. “Our kids played hard. I’m proud of them. It’s a tough task to take on team that was one step away from the 4A finals a year ago.”
The Jaguars finished with 323 total yards for the contest.
Rose wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as with their first possession (seven plays, 57 yards) as they punched it in from five yards out after a fumble recovery by Andrew Phillips.
Athens Drive cut the Rampants’ lead in half as they scored on a 69-yard pass play from junior quarterback Otumos Payemanu to junior wideout Jordan Johnson for the touchdown making it a 13-7 contest with just over 10 minutes left till the half.
Rampants senior quarterback Copeland Spell connected on two big passing plays accounting for two Rose touchdowns. One was a 59-yard pass play to senior wideout Micah Hunter, the other a 43-yard connection with junior Cornell Powell.
Rose went into the locker room at the break with a 40-7 advantage over the Jaguars.
The Jaguars got the first score of the second half off a forced fumble recovery as Jackson Wetherby poked the ball lose.
“We told the kids play one play at a time, play it’s like your last play. Play to win,” Martin said.
It took Athens Drive only five plays to put the points on the board in the second half.
Payemanu (11 carries, 158 yards rushing; 7-for-13, 126 yards passing, 3 INT) opened the drive connecting with Conor Gronbach for a 7-yard pass play. Following runs by Barnes and Payemanu, Payemanu connected twice with Wetherby, the last one culminating the drive with the touchdown catch in the back of the endzone.
The Jaguars’ final scoring drive of the game only needed two plays as Payemanu ran for 54 yards for the score yielding the game’s final result, 54-21.
“We did all rright in the first half,” said Rose head coach David Wojtecki. “Defensively I was pleasantly surprised. We did a lot better than I anticipated.”