For the second year in a row, the Wolverines stood tall after the Backyard Brawl.
The Prince Avenue Christian School football team played at archrival Athens Academy last Friday and won, 49-13. In addition to being a rivalry victory, the win gave the Wolverines a 1-0 start in region play and likely puts them in the driver’s seat in Region 8-A-Private.
“It feels so amazing,” Prince Avenue Christian quarterback Aaron Philo said moments after the game ended. “I feel really happy right now.”
A handful of turnovers and defensive stops kept the game close early on.
Philo scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:50 left in the first quarter. He and the rest of the offense had a shot to score again a few minutes later when Josh Britt picked off Athens Academy quarterback Whit Muschamp but the Spartans forced a fourth-and-long situation on the Wolverines’ ensuing possession.
Prince Avenue Christian punter Bryson Franklin came onto the field for a punt but faked it. Franklin nearly converted the fourth down but was stopped about a yard short.
After the Wolverines got another stop, they coughed up a fumble that was recovered by Athens Academy’s Reid Bangle.
The first quarter ended at 7-0.
The Spartans had miscues of their own. Muschamp had to scramble and field a high snap on the first drive of the second quarter.
Prince Avenue Christian turned it over on the next drive with another fumble. Johnerio Holt recovered that one for the Spartans.
After Athens Academy punted on the ensuing possession, Wally Terrell gave the Spartans back the ball on a fumble recovery to set up first-and-goal.
Muschamp scored on a quarterback sneak to tie the game at 7 with 7:18 left in the second quarter. Less than two minutes later, Philo connected with Ethan Christian on a 33-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead with 5:28 left before halftime.
Philo and Christian connected again on a long pass with 34 seconds left in the second quarter. Prince Avenue Christian took the 21-7 lead into halftime.
Neither team scored for most of the third quarter but then Wolverines freshman Mac Bradley found the end zone on a short run with 3:08 left in the quarter.
The Wolverines really started pulling away shortly thereafter thanks to an 11-yard pick-six by Mason Durning, who snatched a pass thrown by Muschamp and ran into the end zone with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Athens Academy cut into the lead seconds later thanks to an 80-yard touchdown run by Tre Hawkins but its extra point attempt was blocked. That score came with 1:55 left in the third.
Prince Avenue Christian padded its lead before the quarter ended, scoring on a 67-yard pass from Philo to Bradley with 26 seconds to go, making it a 42-13 game.
The final score came with nine minutes to play on a 16-yard pass from Philo to Stockton.
After the game, the Wolverines said their early miscues were costly but they knew they could settle in.
“We had to keep fighting,” Bradley said. “That's it.”
They are not concerned with the mistakes carrying over into future games, either.
“I'm pretty confident we'll put those behind,” Bradley said. “It's in the past. We'll move on.”
Bradley continued a positive trend in the running game.
He finished with 111 yards rushing on 12 carries, good for an average of 9.3 yards per carry.
The Wolverines have been pass-heavy all season. They even had two games where their team rushing total finished in the negatives.
But Philo said he’s noticed a difference in the offense with Bradley’s increased rushing success the last two games.
“We can't throw the ball every play,” Philo said. “We've got to be able to run the ball. [Bradley] gets it done.”
Philo went 20-for-28 with 378 yards passing and four touchdowns. He ran it four times for 21 yards and a score.
Bradley was the leading receiver, notching 126 yards receiving on six catches. Stockton had 104 yards on eight grabs and Christian had 71 yards on two catches. Britt had one catch for 62 yards.
Wade McCormick and Durning led the defense with 10 total tackles apiece. Jake Hathaway had a team-high five tackles for loss followed by McCormick (three), Durning (two) and Brody Healen and Stockton (one each).
Uriah Howard had three sacks and Ethan Garner finished with one.
For the Spartans, Muschamp finished 3-for-10 with 8 yards passing and two interceptions.
Hawkins ran it 26 times for 181 yards and a touchdown.
The Wolverines aim to keep up their hot streak this Friday with another region game against George Walton Academy.
Meanwhile, Athens Academy will travel to Loganville Christian Academy.