High School Sports

Athens Drive clings to win over Holly Springs

The Athens Drive Jaguars have found ways to let games slip away this season, but they found a way to close the deal Friday with a 20-13 win at Holly Springs -- despite losing their grip on a 20-0 second-half lead.

“We’ve really only been out of one game. The rest of these games we’ve just been shooting ourselves in the foot,” Athens Drive coach Chris Martin said. “And we tried to do it again tonight.”

Markees Dasher all but put the game out of reach with an 18-yard third-quarter touchdown catch that put the Jaguars up 20-0 against a Holly Springs offense that hadn’t visited the red zone all night.

That all changed on the Golden Hawks’ very next possession however when sophomore quarterback Justin Armwood – who replaced starter Wade Johnson in the second quarter – led Holly Springs on a 52-yard scoring drive that was capped by an eight-yard pass to Johnson, who had moved to tight end.

With seven minutes left in the game, the Golden Hawks (3-3) made it a one-score game when Marcus Cox scooped up a fumble and churned 64 yards for a touchdown and a 20-13 deficit.

“That fumble for a touchdown, that hurt us,” Martin said.

After a lengthy drive by the Jaguars that was kept alive by a pair of Golden Hawk penalties, Holly Springs got the ball back at its own two-yard line and three minutes of clock left. After moving 27 yards, a pass went in and out of the hands of a receiver and was picked off by Jackson Wetherby.

Holly Springs got the ball back one more time but with just 40 seconds left and no timeouts from their own 16-yard line.

Jamie Barnes shouldered a heavy load for Athens Drive (2-5), carrying 32 times on the Jaguars’ 59 offensive plays. Barnes opened the scoring with a one-yard dash and finished with 115 yards.

“He’s a big part of it,” Martin said. “He’s the man and we ride him. We’re real young on offense and he’s a veteran so he’s going to carry the load.”

Athens Drive quarterback Otumos Payemanu hit Brock Martin for a four-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter before hooking up with Dasher. Payemanu finished with 82 yards through the air to spell his 40 yards on the ground.

Tray Staten rushed for 79 yards for Holly Springs while Armwood added 77 yards orchestrating the option.

“It’s a huge win,” Martin said. “I thought we played excellent in all three phases. We’ve made everything better except we’re just not getting the wins that we need and we overcame that tonight.”