Midtown: Sports

Athens Drive beats Sanderson 24-6 in coach’s debut

RALEIGH - Heading into his first game as the Athens Drive head coach, Chris Martin found himself nervous and antsy as kickoff approached.

The Jaguars needed all of two minutes to settle him down.

Running back Dominique Lynch gave Athens Drive to a 7-0 lead following a 8-yard TD run 2:14 into the game, and the Jaguars controlled Sanderson the rest of the way, with a 24-6 win at Williams Stadium.

"I’m not going to lie. I was nervous," Martin said. "I’m proud of their effort. We’ve got a lot of stuff to improve. Compared to last week, we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go."

Athens Drive’s defense, spearheaded by linebacker Daniel Riddle, held Sanderson to 156 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers, including interceptions by Daniel Frued and Kyle Wolfe.

The Spartans’ lone touchdown came on Zairee Parker’s 70-yard interception return in the first half. Sanderson could never find a rhythm offensively. Quarterback Matthew Koehler completed 6 of 17 attempts. Tailback Keith Porch rushed for 72 yards on 10 carries.

The Jaguars (1-0) put the game away early in the second half. Henry Smith returned the opening kickoff 54 yards to the Sanderson 37-yard line. Five plays later, Jerrell Thorpe punched in a 5-yard touchdown run for a 24-6 lead.

With rain steadily falling throughout the second half, Martin opted to keep the ball in the hands of Lynch and Thorpe to grind down the clock. Lynch finished the night with 112 yards on 22 carries, while Thorpe ran for 59 yards on 12 touches.

"We have two guys that can run the ball pretty well," Martin said. "We found a little bit of a running game, which I’ve been looking for since I got the job. And we’ve got to improve passing the ball because we can’t be one-dimensional."

And then Martin won’t have anything to be nervous about.