THE PLAINS, Ohio — Now that’s a halftime adjustment.
Trailing 28-21 at the intermission, Gallia Academy rallied for 31 second-half points — including the final 24 points of the game — Friday night during a come-from-behind 52-34 victory over host Athens in a Week 1 non-conference matchup at Rutter Field in Athens County.
The visiting Blue Devils (1-0) found themselves in a 28-14 hole midway through the second period, but a late touchdown just before halftime allowed GAHS to pick up some momentum headed into the second half.
Gallia Academy kept things rolling its way after the break, as the guests scored on their opening drive of the third quarter to pull even at 28 with the Bulldogs. Athens (0-1) responded with its only points of the second half on its ensuing drive, giving the hosts their final lead of the night at 34-28 with 2:30 left in the third.
GAHS followed with 24 unanswered points down the stretch to turn a one-point game into an 18-point triumph.
Gallia Academy’s offense was the main story of the night, amassing 505 yards of total offense — including 320 rushing yards on 50 carries. The Blue Devils’ defense, however, also came up big, surrendering just 320 total yard of offense — including a mere 93 rushing yards on 26 totes.
GAHS took its first lead of the night with 9:41 left in the opening canto, as Cody Russell plunged in from a yard out for an early 7-0 advantage.
AHS quarterback Joe Burrow followed with a seven-yard scamper to pull the hosts to within 7-6 at the 4:16 mark, by Ty Warnimont countered with a 60-yard run to paydirt with 2:49 left in the opener for a 14-6 lead.
Ryan Luehrman hauled in a 10-yard scoring pass from Burrow with just 26 second left in the quarter, then the duo hooked up successfully on a two-point conversion pass to pull the game even at 14-all through one period of play.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the night with 9:12 remaining in the first half, as Burrow found Tyler McIntosh on a seven-yard scoring pass for a 20-14 cushion. Luehrman hauled in another scoring pass from Burrow at the 5:24 mark, giving Athens a 26-14 edge. Skylar Schwarzel added a successful two-point conversion run, giving AHS its biggest lead of the night at 28-14.
The Devils managed to trim that deficit in half at the 3:07 mark of the second period, as Luke Pullins rushed into the endzone from a yard out for a 28-21 contest headed into the intermission.
GAHS pulled even with 7:04 left in the third quarter, as Clagg plunged in from two yards out for a 28-all contest. Trae Williams gave the hosts the lead one final time, scoring on an eight-yard scamper with 2:30 remaining for a 34-28 edge.
Clagg hauled in the tying score from Jarrell with a dozen seconds left in the third, and Dylan Saunders connected on the ensuing extra point to secure a permament lead of 35-34 for the guests.
Jarrell found Cody Russell on a 13-yard scoring pass with 8:47 remaining for a 42-34 edge, then Saunders nailed a 20-yard field goal with 1:43 left in regulation for a comfortable 45-34 cushion. Warnimont concluded the scoring with a 36-yard jaunt with 56 seconds remaining, allowing GAHS to come away with the 18-point decision.
Gallia Academy claimed a small 16-14 edge in first downs and committed just two penalties for 24 yards, while Athens had eight flags for 45 yards. The Bulldogs also had both turnovers in the contest.
Warnimont led the Devils with 153 rushing yards on nine carries, followed by Jarrell with 93 yards on 12 attempts. Pullins and Logan Allison also added 33 yards apiece on nine carries and four carries, respectively. Cody Russell also had 22 yards on nine totes for the victors.
Jarrell finished the night 10-of-16 passing for 185 yards and two scores. Nick Clagg hauled in four catches for 98 yards and Reid Eastman had two grabs for 48 yards. Logan Allison (16) and Cody Russell (13) both had a reception as well.
Williams led the AHS rushing attack with 64 yards on 11 tries, while Burrow added 21 yards on 13 carries. Burrow also went 20-of-30 passing for 227 yards while throwing three TDs. Schwarzel had nine catches for 98 yards and Luehrman had eight grabs for 97 yards.
These two teams have met in Week 1 in each of the last five seasons — dating back to 2008 — and the home team has lost all five outcomes in this matchup.
Gallia Academy will make its home debut next Friday when it hosts Licking Heights in a non-conference matchup at 7:30 p.m.