McARTHUR - The Vinton County Vikings varsity football team (1-4 overall; 0-2 vs. Tri-Valley Conference, Ohio Division) lost its third straight game on Friday night, falling to the Athens Bulldogs (4-1; 2-0) by a score of 28-14. Statistically it appeared that Athens dominated the contest, but a glut of holding penalties against the Bulldogs kept the outcome of the game in doubt until late in the second half.
Athens opened up the scoring on its first possession of the game. The Bulldogs traveled 60 yards in five plays, capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Clay Davis to junior wide receiver Nick Barga. Davis ended the game with 30 pass completions on 42 attempts for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Barga finished the night with four pass receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown. The point-after-touchdown by senior kicker Kyler Brooks was successful, giving Athens and early 7-0 lead. For the game Brooks had two points-after-touchdown on three attempts.
The Bulldogs would add to their lead late in the first half. After taking possession of the football in Vinton County territory, Athens would drive 46 yards in seven plays. A seven-yard touchdown pass from Davis to senior wide receiver Treyce Albin completed the drive. Albin finished the night with six pass receptions for 52 yards and one touchdown, and two rushes for seventeen yards and one touchdown. A successful point-after-touchdown by Brooks gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 advantage at halftime.
Athens was first on the board in the second half as well. After a partially-blocked punt by Vinton County, the Bulldogs again took possession of the football on the Vikings' side of the field. Ten plays later, Albin ran twelve yards for his second touchdown of the game. The point-after-touchdown attempts by Brooks was blocked by Vinton County, but Athens enjoyed a 20-0 advantage.
The Vikings began to knuckle down late in the third quarter. After forcing the Bulldogs to turn the football over on downs, Vinton County struck on its first play from scrimmage. A 75-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Naylan Yates to junior wide receiver Lincoln Hayes cut into the Athens lead. Yates would end the night with eleven pass completions on twenty attempts for 241 yards and two touchdowns, and twelve rushes for 34 yards. Hayes finished the contest with five pass receptions for 130 yards and one touchdown, and one carry for three yards. The point-after-touchdown by sophomore kicker Eli Downs trimmed the lead to 20-7. For the game Downs had two-points-after-touchdown on two attempts.
The Vikings made the game interesting just moments later. The Bulldogs punted the football to Vinton County at its own 49-yard line. Five plays later, Yates connected with senior wide receiver Donnie Stevens on a six-yard touchdown pass. Stevens ended the game with two pass receptions for 32 yards and one touchdown. A successful point-after-touchdown by Downs cut the advantage for Athens to 20-14.
The Bulldogs ended all hopes for the Vikings with little more than one minute left in the game. A nine-play, 53-yard drive by Athens was capped by a six-yard touchdown run by junior running back Mikel Casteel. For the night Casteel had nine rushes for 91 yards and one touchdown. A successful two-point conversion by the Bulldogs left the Vikings on the losing end of a 28-14 score.
Vinton County had help on offense from senior wide receiver Hunter Nichols (three pass receptions for 53 yards). The Vikings were led on defense by Stevens, Nichols, senior linebacker Shane Rife, and sophomore defensive back Jacob Wells.
On Friday night Vinton County will travel to Albany to challenge the Alexander Spartans (1-4; 0-2). The Spartans defeated Federal Hocking in Week One but have lost four consecutive games, including a loss to Wellston on Friday night.