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Athens Academy tops Riverside 34-10, clinches 8-A title
Despite strong effort, Eagles overmatched by Spartans' size and speed
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On Senior Night, at Maginnis Field on Friday night, it was visiting Athens Academy that had reason for celebration.

The Spartans (8-1, 5-1 Region 8-A) not only beat Riverside Military Academy 34-10 but they also clinched the Region 8-A championship with the victory.

The Spartans' rushing attack gashed the Eagles' defense for an astounding 363 yards and averaged 9 yards per carry. The Athens offense finished the night with 469 total yards.

"Our team play hard," Riverside Coach Chris Cotter said. "The physical difference when you see them line up against us is pretty obvious. Every team we go against is going to be bigger, stronger, and faster than us. And until we can get a summer program going, then this is going to be what we face."

The Eagles (2-7, 1-4 Region 8-A) kept the game close in the first half, pulling within 14-10 on quarterback Michael Gallup's 2-yard touchdown run.

Athens Academy scored right before the half on a Henry Terrell 2-yard touchdown run, making the score 21-10. And the Spartans wore down the Eagle defense and put the game out of reach with two third-quarter touchdowns.

The back-breaking play coming on the second play of scrimmage in the second half. Spartan quarterback Mark Sanders executed a perfect play-fake and threw downfield to receiver James Waugh. The pass just went over the fingertips of an Eagle defender and the 66-yard touchdown gave the Spartans a 17-point lead.

Spartans quarterback Sanders was a one-man wrecking crew as he rushed for 133 yards and two scores and completed all six of his passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. Henry Terrell added in 74 rushing yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.

The game started off very well for Riverside as it forced a Spartan fumble and turned that into a 35-yard field goal by Victor Salcido.

But the Spartans were too physical and too good on this night for the Eagles.

"Archibald was out, Dukes was out, Thomas was out. Three of our starters were out but that's no excuse," Cotter said. "That team (Athens Academy) was well-coached, and just bigger, stronger, faster. That's a good football program they have got over there."

Several Eagle defenders did have good games as Zachary Smith and Coleman Lowenthal recovered fumbles and Marlan Edwards added a quarterback sack for the Eagles. On offense, they were led by Gallup's 74 yards rushing on 16 carries. He also threw for 75 yards through the air.

"Just finish the season as strong as we can," Cotter said. "We'll go back to work on Monday and put in four more hard days of work and see what we can do next Friday."

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