Athens Prince Avenue Christian quarterback Carl Mattox rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns as the host Wolverines celebrated newly christened Brad Akins Field with a convincing 41-0 victory over Hebron Christian on Friday.
The Wolverines (1-0) struck quickly. After forcing a punt on the opening Hebron drive, Mattox sliced off the left side on the first play from scrimmage and raced 58 yards for a TD and early 7-0 Prince Avenue lead.
"We warned our kids all week that if one person blows an assignment that could happen," Hebron head coach Sal Battaglia said, "and that was a perfect example."
Hebron (0-1) threatened to knot the game midway through the first quarter. After recovering a Mattox fumble at the Prince Avenue 35, the Lions marched to the Wolverines' 3-yard line. Disaster struck on first-and-goal when a Tyler Smith fumble was recovered by the Wolverines at the 1-yard line to snuff the threat.
On the ensuing possession the Lions' defense stiffened and forced a Wolverine punt. However, Prince Avenue retained possession after a roughing the kicker penalty in the end zone.
"That's the sign of a young team mistake," said Hebron head coach Sal Battaglia, whose squad is dominated by freshmen and sophomores, "We didn't have a punt block on. It was a case of being overzealous. But that's not necessarily a bad thing if we can harness it."
The penalty proved critical two plays later when Mattox burst off the left side and scampered 85 yards for his second TD and 14-0 Wolverines lead with 2:34 remaining in first quarter. Bryce Huff, who rushed for 55 yards and two TDs on five carries, added another TD for the Wolverines on a 15-yard run midway through the second quarter to give Prince Avenue a 21-0 at half.
The Mattox highlight show continued in the second half. On the third play of the half, Mattox raced 69 yards for his third TD to extend the lead to 28-0 with 9:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Huff scored his second TD later in the quarter on a 13-yard run to give the Prince Avenue a commanding 35-0 lead. George Alviter added a late TD on a 13-yard run to provide the final margin.
"Despite the score it wasn't a bad effort on the part of the kids," Battaglia said. "We didn't have a sharp week of practice and I told them you play as practice, and that showed tonight. But we're a young team and we'll learn from it. We need to start working on getting better, beginning on Monday."
Hebron is on the road again next week as they travel to South Carolina to face Southside Christian.