Function of Beauty

Athens edges past Tunkhannock.

By: Tim Birney | Towanda Daily Review | August 30, 2014 | Photo courtesy Tim Birney


2014 Athens vs. Tunkhannock FootballATHENS - Athens took advantage of a pair of Tunkhannock special teams miscues to score a pair of touchdowns in a season-opening 20-14 win Friday night at Alumni Stadium in non-league football action.

"One of the things we talked about that was a key tonight was how were we going to react to big plays - good or bad," said Young.

"You have to take advantage of breaks and we did," he added.

With Tunkhannock leading 7-0, the Wildcats took possession following a 13-yard punt at the Tigers' 23-yard line with 1:50 remaining in the first half.

Six plays later, Brandon Sturzenegger bulled in from three yards out on fourth-and-goal to cut the deficit to 7-6. Austin Lister's PAT kick tied the game with 19.2 seconds remaining in the half.

The teams traded punts early in the second half until Cody Cain's second punt of the third quarter caromed off a Tunkhannock defender and the Wildcats pounced on it at the Tigers' 30.

Six plays later, QB Tyler Forbes snuck in from one yard out to give Athens the lead. Lister tacked on the extra point to make it 14-7 with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

The drive was highlighted by a 14-yard pass from Forbes to sophomore Kalen Keathley.

The Tigers responded quickly as Brian Beauchemin broke free on a counter for 56 yards and a score to cap a three-play, 72-yard drive. Beauchemin's PAT kick made it 14-14 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.

The Wildcats took advantage of yet another special teams gaffe to set up their game-winning scoring drive. After Beauchemin's initial kick sailed out-of-bounds, his attempt at a squib kick was fielded by Zane Vargason, who returned it 15 yards to the Athens 49.

Sturzenegger carried the ball seven consecutive times and picked up 43 yards to move the ball to the Tunkhannock eight yard line, then Forbes scrambled around right end on a QB keeper, diving to the pylon for the go-ahead score with 9:05 left in the game.

After a low-snap was dug off the turf by Athens holder Justyn Reagan, Lister's PAT attempt caromed off the right up right to leave the score at 20-14.

Tunkhannock moved the ball to the Athens 18 on its next possession, but Sturzenegger came up with a big stop behind the line-of-scrimmage on fourth down to give the ball back to the Wildcats.

After Athens was unable to pick up a first down, Tunkhannock took over at its 40 and quickly moved the ball into Wildcat territory, but a big hit on Beauchemin resulted in a fumble at the Athens 37 and defensive end Bill Bennett pounced on it to give the Wildcats the ball back with 1:09 left in the game.

"The biggest play of the game to me was their last play," said Young. "(Beauchemin) gains four yards and we gang-tackle him and cause a fumble - that's a gutsy play. It's our guys hanging in there and not giving up.

"We missed an extra point, so if they score there's a good chance we lose the ball game," added Young.

The game started in peculiar fashion as Athens drove the ball on 13 plays, aided by a personal foul, from its own 38 to the Tunkhannock 5.

After an illegal procedure on fourth and two moved the ball back to the 10, Keathley scampered in on a reverse for a score, but it was nullified by a holding call.

Not to be deterred, Forbes connected with Cain over two Tunkhannock defenders on an apparent 21-yard TD strike, but another holding call erased that score as well.

Two more penalties - one on Athens and one on Tunkhannock - left the Wildcats facing a fourth and 19 at the 22. Forbes ripped off an 11-yard run, but Athens turned the ball over on downs.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Young. "We got the TD once, then we got it a second time, then the ball just kept going the other way."

Tunkhannock returned the favor with a long drive, moving 89 yards on 14 plays, capped by a one-yard TD dive by Beauchemin just 18 seconds into the second quarter.

"I thought it was a gutsy win," said Young. "We hung in there and we had to, (Tunkhannock) is a solid football team."

Sturzenegger led Athens with 97 yards and a TD on 28 carries, while Forbes gained 73 yards and scored twice on 15 carries.

Forbes also completed four of 11 pass attempts for 22 yards with Keathley hauling in three receptions for 11 yards and Luke Newman recording one reception for 11 yards.

Beauchemin led all ground-gainers with 147 yards and two TDs on 20 carries, while Brandon Dailey added 52 yards on six carries.

Ryan Eli completed just one of eight pass attempts for 42 yards with Beauchemin recording the lone reception.

A total of 16 penalty flags - eight against each team - were thrown in the game, including 12 in the first half.

Athens returns to action next Friday at Hughesville.


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio
Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder/owner of Valley Sports Report, which covers high school and youth sports in the Sayre and Athens, PA and Waverly and Tioga, NY school districts.

Birney, a 1988 graduate of Utica College of Syracuse University, spent nearly 20 years as a Sports Writer at the Daily Review and Evening/Morning Times.

He founded Valley Sports Report in August of 2009.