Updated Sun, Nov 4, 2012 4:02 pm
Athens defeated the Circleville Tigers 63-28 Saturday to earn their first playoff win in school history. Sophomore quarterback and Gridiron Glory Player of the Year candidate Joey Burrow accounted for 342 total yards and eight touchdowns in the win
“Certainly, with big play capability, Joey (Burrow) can get the ball in the hands of the most potent people we have out there, and they did good things after the catch a number of times,” Athens head coach Ryan Adams said after the game
Burrow led the Athens offense to touchdowns on its first five possessions before stalling in the red zone as the clock ran out in the second quarter. Athens held a 32-21 lead at halftime, despite three first-half touchdowns, two rushing, one receiving, from Circleville fullback Rusty Shull.
Athens outscored Circleville 30-7 in the second half after the third quarter began with a big four-possession sequence. The Tigers, having just held Athens out of the end zone for the first time all game to end the first half, attempted and recovered an onside kick to begin the second half of play.
Athens’ defense held, however, and made a fourth-down stop. That led to Burrow’s sixth touchdown of the game, a one-yard plunge to cap a 70-yard drive—making the score 38-21 in favor of Athens.
On the ensuing possession, Ron Naphier intercepted Circleville quarterback David Burroughs, leading to a 17-yard rushing touchdown by Burrow. At that point, Athens led 44-21 and the game was out of reach.
Burrow ended the game 16-of-29 for 253 yards and four passing touchdowns with 89 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore Ryan Leuhrman and senior Skylar Schwartzel each contributed a pair of receiving touchdowns and running back Trae Williams added 137 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
While Burrow has 54 touchdowns in 11 games, and while Athens routinely receives contributions from a plethora of skill position players, Adams was quick to direct credit to the protection given by an experienced Bulldogs offensive line.
“Everybody talks about this guy and that guy, but it’s all taken care of up front,” he said. “They are the real cogs in the wheel.”
Burroughs ended the game with 162 passing yards and one touchdown for Circleville. The Tigers as a whole rushed for 288 yards and three scores on the night.
With the win Athens advances to the regional semifinal to take on No. 7 seed Springfield Shawnee next Saturday.