Shouts of the number seven echoed around Athens Academy’s Slaughter Field last Friday as Tre Hawkins broke his own school record.
Yet Hawkins himself appeared calm, cool and collected.
The junior handed the ball to the referee in the end zone, running back down the field like he did after every other play that night.
In the game against Providence Christian Academy, Hawkins scored seven touchdowns and rushed for 301 yards on 20 carries, breaking his previous school record of five touchdowns and 285 yards. His performance led the Spartans to a 70-35 win.
“I really just wanted to win. That’s the prize: getting the win each week,” Hawkins said. “I wasn’t really going for a record, but it happened. And I’d like to thank the o-line for that and the receivers and the quarterback for making adjustments.”
Friday’s game was Hawkins’ third of the season. He sat out in the opener against Trinity Christian due to an ongoing ankle injury.
While sitting out that game was frustrating, Hawkins knew he had to move on and prepare for the next game.
His breakout came at a nearly perfect time. Six minutes into the first quarter, a late hit on teammate Austin McGee left McGee with an injury to his left leg. McGee was helped off the field to be examined and never returned to the game.
By the time McGee left the field, Athens Academy already scored two touchdowns, both by Hawkins. Still, the Spartan offense relied on McGee for movement early in the first quarter.
“I wouldn’t say it affected us in a positive way, but then again, I’ll say it would because it made us fight harder. We wanted to go out and win for him because that’s our brother,” Hawkins said. “It was definitely devastating, we didn’t want that to happen, but you have to play your cards the way they’re dealt.”
Knowing there was more pressure on the rest of the offense, Hawkins and quarterback Sam Bush turned to the game ahead of them. The Spartans were ahead by only 2 points.
Not even a minute after McGee’s exit, Hawkins sparked the offense, running in a 28-yard touchdown, his third of the night.
The second quarter began five minutes later with the same theme: a Hawkins touchdown. Bush completed a 34-yard pass to Asa Drudge that set up a 1-yard rush for Hawkins.
In Providence’s following possession, the Spartan defense found a rhythm, forcing a punt attempt from the Storm. But the punt was fumbled, causing players to reach after the ball for nearly 10 yards as it slipped into Providence’s end zone.
Will Warner jumped over the goal line for the ball to get the touchdown call for Athens Academy.
The Storm continued to put up a fight in the frame, finding space between Athens Academy linemen to run the ball into the end zone. Providence tried for a 2-point conversion but failed, leaving a 16-point gap between the two teams.
In response, the Storm attempted an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Spartans. Bush immediately ran for a 56-yard touchdown.
A possession later, Hawkins scored his fifth touchdown with 3:20 left in the half. He ran for 55 yards, his longest rush of the game.
When halftime came around a few minutes later, the Spartans led 49-27. By that point, Hawkins had five touchdowns and 193 yards on five carries.
The team returned to the field 20 minutes later and Athens Academy picked up where it left off.
Jamari Welch had a 35-yard return that set up Bush for his second rushing touchdown of the game.
The teams’ defenses showed through as the quarter went back and forth between the Spartans and the Storm.
With less than five minutes left in the quarter, Hawkins scored his final two touchdowns. His seventh one came from a 36-yard rush to bring the Spartans to a coincidental score of 70.
Fans and teammates cheered on Hawkins as he returned to the sideline with his two new school records.
“He’s just a good back,” said head coach Josh Alexander. “He’s finally healthy and doing what he does. He’s just fun to watch.”
Providence recorded its final touchdown in the fourth quarter to end the game at a score of 70-35.
Three hours after kickoff, Spartan friends and family finally gathered on the field to congratulate the Athens Academy team.
Campus bells rang in the distance, celebrating the win.
“We really can’t just focus on this game, it’s behind us now,” Hawkins said. “We have to focus on the week ahead of us and winning that week and not just think about this win because this score doesn’t matter anymore. It’s behind us, it’s in the past.”