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HUNTINGDON (August 24) — The Mustangs’ home opener Friday against the Waverly Tigers began as a Huntingdon rout but turned into a shootout.
The Tigers never pulled closer than 14 points but kept it interesting until the final minutes by swapping blows with the Mustangs down the stretch. The two fast-pace offenses, led by Mustang junior Hunter Ensley in his first year as starting quarterback and the Tigers’ reigning Class 2A Mr. Football Gavin Stanfield, lit up the scoreboard for a 105 total points, but it was Huntingdon that claimed a 63-42 victory in front of the home crowd.
Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed in honor of James Arthur Harris, a Huntingdon High School athlete and 1976 graduate, a National Guardsman, an HPD officer, a DARE officer and the Chief of Security for Bethel University for 13 years up until his death on Thursday at age 60.
Waverly received the opening kickoff and Stanfield completed two quick passes for a first down. The drive stalled there and the Tigers punted.
The Mustangs began their first possession at their own 25. A carry by Konnor Pearson lost three yards, then Ensley threw from deep in the backfield to Pearson for nine. Next, Ensley found Kelby Pearson open for a 47-yard reception. Brandon Lawton capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run. Cole Edwards split the uprights on the PAT for an early 7-0 Huntingdon lead.
Edwards then kicked deep to Waverly. Tiger J.D. Nixon made a long return to midfield, but a penalty forced the Tigers to start at the 13. Stanfield led the no-huddle offense on an ten-play drive that ended with the quarterback scrambling on fourth-and-six at the Huntingdon 22 before taking a sack for a 17-yard loss from Mustangs Sebastian Kee and Austin Avery.
Mustang Daquon Robinson got the first handoff and took it 61 yards for a touchdown. An Edwards PAT made it 14-0 with just under six minutes to play in the opening frame.
The Huntingdon defense forced a three-and-out, and Waverly’s punt sailed out of bounds at the Mustang 41. Ensley kept the first snap for 16 yards across midfield, then kept again for a 43-yard touchdown. After the point-after kick, Huntingdon led 21-0.
Dixon scooped up the ensuing kickoff near the 5 yard line and returned it to the 41. The Mustangs were flagged for pass interference on consecutive plays, then Stanfield completed passes to Colton Cochran for 15 yards and to Dixon for a five-yard touchdown. A good kick closed the gap to 21-7 with just over three minutes on the first-quarter clock.
Lawton returned a deep kick to the Mustang 42. Robinson was held to short gains on consecutive carries, then Ensley threw to Austin Baker for a 55-yard touchdown. Edwards’ PAT upped the Huntingdon lead to 28-7.
Edwards made another strong kickoff, but Montez Bradley returned it to near midfield. Stanfield was sacked on consecutive plays, first by Bo McLemore and Daniel Sullenger and then by McLemore solo. On third-and-long, Stanfield found Brian Dodd, but for only five yards as the first quarter finally ended. Dixon’s punt on the first play of the second was downed at the Mustang 27.
Ensley wasted no time, taking the first snap 73 yards to paydirt. After the kick, Huntingdon’s lead had grown to 35-7.
Edwards made his strongest kickoff of the game for a touchback. Bradley was stopped for no gain, then Stanfield took over, earning four consecutive first downs on two scrambling runs and two passes. Bradley took it the final three yards for the score. The PAT cut Waverly’s deficit to 35-14.
The Mustangs managed one first down before the drive stalled. Dallas Willis made a flawless punt from the 50 which came to rest at the Tiger 1.
Stanfield threw incomplete twice from the end zone under heavy pressure, then scrambled on third down for eleven yards and a fresh set of downs in safer territory. He then completed to Dixon twice to get to the 40. Sullenger sacked Stanfield for a ten-yard loss, then the QB threw to Bradley. Bradley reached the end zone after the catch, but a penalty negated the score. On second-and-long, Stanfield was dropped in the backfield again, this time by Kee. After a short pass to Dixon, the Tigers punted.
Starting at the Huntingdon 45, Ensley threw to Konnor Pearson for 27, but the drive stalled and ended with a fourth-down fumble recovered by Waverly.
Stanfield threw incomplete, leaving just 4.4 seconds until halftime. Bradley made a long run, but was stopped after time expired. At the half, the Mustangs led 35-14.
Huntingdon received the second-half kickoff and began at the 36. Lawton gained 30, then Ensley kept for three. Lawton added another two yards, then Ensley threw under pressure to Kelby Pearson for 20 yards to the 9. Lawton carried for five, then took it the final four yards into the end zone. Edwards kicked to give the Mustangs their biggest lead of the night at 42-14 with 8:33 left in the third.
Edwards’ kickoff was caught at the 1 by Dixon, who went the distance on the return. The point-after attempt failed, and the Huntingdon lead was 42-20.
The Mustangs went three-and-out on the next possession. Willis’ punt went out of bounds at the Waverly 46.
Bradley ran twice to cross midfield and move the chains. After an incomplete pass, Stanfield’s next throw was caught by Dixon. A pass interference penalty added extra yards, but Waverly committed back-to-back false starts to cede ten yards. Stanfield threw to Dodd for ten, then kept for a 29-yard touchdown. The quarterback kept again to convert for two points and cut the Tiger deficit to 42-28 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
A short kick started Huntingdon at the Waverly 48. Konnor Pearson ran twice for a first down, Ensley gained five and Robinson carried for a pair. Ensley kept for a first down at the 16, then made a toss under pressure to Kelby Pearson for a touchdown. The PAT made it 49-28 with two minutes left in the third.
Waverly answered with a 72-yard drive capped by a 34-yard pass from Stanfield to Dixon. After the kick, the Mustang lead was 49-35 with seconds left in the third.
The Tigers’ onside kick attempt was smothered by McLemore, and Konnor Pearson made a short gain to wrap up the quarter. Ensley started the final frame with a short gain, then threw to Konnor Pearson for 24 and a first down. A penalty on the next play set Huntingdon back, but Ensley ran to the 3. He kept again and punched it in for six points. The PAT gave the Mustangs a 56-35 lead with just under ten to play.
The Tigers again responded, going 81 yards on three plays in less than a minute, and again it was Stanfield throwing to Dixon for the score. A good kick cut Huntingdon’s lead to 56-42.
Huntingdon looked to kill the clock with a ground-and-pound attack, but Waverly held the offense to one first down and forced a punt.
Starting at the 19, Stanfield was flagged for intentional grounding to move the ball back to the 6. The Mustang defense pressured him into consecutive incomplete passes from the end zone, and, on fourth-and-long, the quarterback scrambled to the outside. He gained just eight to turn the ball over, with Konnor Pearson on the stop.
The Tiger defense didn’t roll over despite Huntingdon taking over at the 14. After being stopped twice at the line of scrimmage, Ensley finally gained seven on third down. On fourth-and-three, he kept again for an eight-yard touchdown. Edwards completed a perfect night on PATs, and the Mustangs led 63-42 with just under two minutes remaining.
Huntingdon made a bouncing kick, then forced a three-and-out capped by a McLemore sack for a 17-yard loss.
After the Waverly punt, Ensley took a knee in victory formation to claim the 63-42 win.
The Mustangs move to 2-0 with the victory and will begin Region 6A play on the road Friday against Hollow Rock-Bruceton at 7 p.m.