By DENNIS BURTON
RALEIGH – Athens Drive trailed in the fourth quarter Friday, but rallied late to knock off Holly Springs 35-31 and end the regular on a positive note.
With the win, the Jaguars became eligible for a wild card berth in the playoffs.
Holly Springs struck first when the Roach brothers hooked up for a 56-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. Mike found Joey wide open down the right sideline and Joey did the rest, cutting back across the field through the Athens defense for the score.
The Jaguars tied the score at 7 on the first play of the second quarter when Ben Snotherly connected with Louis Wilder for a 36-yard touchdown.
The tie lasted only nine seconds, though. Markez Davis restored the Golden Hawks lead when he returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown with 11:44 left in the first half.
Athens (5-6, 3-5 Tri-Nine) was able to pull even with Holly Springs again late in the second quarter. Snotherly engineered a 90-yard scoring drive, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Williams with 56.9 seconds left in the half.
After a fairly uneventful third quarter, the Jags led 21-17. The fourth quarter, however, did not lack offensive action.
The Hawks retook the lead on the opening play of the quarter on a 3-yard K.J. Herndon touchdown run.
Athens quickly answered with a Kyree Green 21-yard scamper right up the middle of the defense.
The back-and-forth battle continued as Herndon gave Holly Springs a 31-28 lead with 2:41 left in the game on a 21-yard touchdown run. In hindsight, maybe the Hawks scored a little too quickly.
Snotherly and company took over deep in their own territory and marched up the field flawlessly executing the 2-minute drill. With 1:08 left on the clock, the senior signal caller found Williams in the end zone for a second time – this time from 9 yards out.
Snotherly had quite a senior night. He finished 22-for-34 for 313 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 60 yards.
Holly Springs (2-9, 1-7) moved the ball, but its final drive and its season ended just inside Jags’ territory.