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HUNTLAND (November 21) — The Huntingdon Mustangs traveled Thursday for a TSSAA Class 1A State Football Quarterfinal against the Huntland Hornets. The host team struck first with a field goal, …
HUNTLAND (November 21) — The Huntingdon Mustangs traveled Thursday for a TSSAA Class 1A State Football Quarterfinal against the Huntland Hornets. The host team struck first with a field goal, and the Huntingdon offense got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, but they scored late in the first and early in the second for a 13-3 halftime lead. The Mustangs returned to form in the second half, dominating both sides of the ball to claim a 42-10 win.
Huntingdon will host Lake County in a semifinal battle of undefeateds on Black Friday, November 29 at 7 p.m. for a chance to go to the Class 1A title game in Cookeville on December 6.
Huntland received the opening kickoff and started at the 29. Hornet Kolbi Stewart ran for a first down, but it was quickly third-and-long. Quarterback Payton Reed threw to Garrett Jernigan for 36 yards to extend the drive, but the Mustang defense stifled it there. On fourth down, Abraham Morris kicked a 37-yard field goal to give Huntland a 3-0 lead with eight minutes to play in the first frame.
An onside kick attempt by Morris was recovered by Mustang Austin Baker at the Huntingdon 44. A holding penalty backed the ball up to the 34, and the Mustangs went three-and-out. Cole Edwards punted from midfield, and the Hornets took over at their own 25.
Three false starts doomed Huntland to a three-and-out. Deep in his own territory, Morris’s punt was blocked by Mustang Bo McLemore, recovered by Devin McClerkin and returned to the 15.
Huntingdon scored on two plays, the latter a seven-yard run by Brandon Lawton. Edwards kicked the PAT, and the Mustangs took a 7-3 lead with 2:51 left in the first quarter.
Edwards kicked into the end zone for a touchback to pin Huntland at the 20. The Hornets gained just enough for a first down, but then went backward on the next play as the frame ended. P. Reed threw to Stewart for 12 to start the second, but Morris had to punt on fourth-and-five at the 36.
Mustang quarterback Hunter Ensley fielded a strong punt near the 25 and returned it to the 33. Lawton ran for three, then a false start backed the ball up. On second-and-12, Konnor Pearson took it 69 yards to paydirt. Edwards had a rare miss on the PAT, and Huntingdon led 13-3 with just over ten minutes remaining before intermission.
Hornet Bryson Turner returned Edwards’s kickoff from the 1 to the 18. It was quickly fourth-and-two at the 26, and Huntland gambled and lost, turning the ball over at the 27. The Mustangs suffered a false start on first down and soon faced fourth-and-six at the Hornet 23. Huntland made the stop and took over on downs.
The Hornets moved the ball well, earning three first downs to the Huntingdon 35. Hornet Cameron Reed was then dropped for a ten-yard loss by Ethan Reliford. On second-and-20, P. Reed threw to Jernigan for 19 yards, but the play was negated by a penalty. Two plays later, Morris punted from near midfield. The kick went out of bounds at the 25.
Ensley ran for 12 yards as time expired. A Huntland personal foul penalty on the play would be assessed on the second-half kickoff. At the half, Huntingdon led 13-3.
Morris kicked from the 25 to start the third quarter. A squib kick was picked up by McLemore and returned to the Huntland 41. Ensley ran for eight, then threw to Pearson for 13. Pearson then rushed for seven, and Ensley took it 13 for the touchdown. He kept for two points, and the lead was 21-3 with 10:34 to play in the third.
A Huntingdon penalty on the kickoff return set the Hornets up at their own 40, but the Mustang defense kept them from reaching midfield. On fourth-and-four, Stewart was stopped short for a turnover on downs.
Lawton started the drive with an eight-yard run. Then, a long touchdown was negated by penalty. Huntingdon earned a first down on three plays, then another on two snaps. From the 16, Pearson gained two, then Ensley scrambled for five. On third down, Pearson ran for nine down to the 1. On first-and-goal, Ensley punched it in. Edwards kicked the extra point, and the Mustangs led 28-3 with 4:31 left in the third frame. The Hornets and Mustangs swapped punts in the remaining minutes of the third, and Huntland went three-and-out early in the final frame.
Starting at the Huntingdon 12, the Mustangs advanced to the Huntland 12 on ten plays. From there, Ensley threw to Noah Belew for a touchdown. Edwards kicked, and Huntingdon led 35-3 with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest. The Mustang defense forced another three-and-out, and Morris’s punt was downed at the Huntingdon 35. Lawton lost a yard, then Ensley threw to Reliford for a 66-yard score. Edwards’s PAT made the lead 42-3 and a running clock at 3:50.
Edwards kicked for a touchback. C. Reed gained ten, then Stewart ran for seven. A penalty made it second-and-long, but P. Reed threw to Jernigan for a long touchdown. Morris hit the PAT, and the deficit was cut to 42-10 with a just over a minute to play, stopping the running clock. Huntingdon’s reserves ran a couple of plays before time expired.
The Mustangs had 397 yards of total offense, including 306 rushing yards on 38 carries. Quarterback Hunter Ensley was three-for-six for 91 yards in the air.
The Hornets had 229 yards of offense, 82 rushing on 42 carries. Quarterback Payton Reed was five-for-eight for 147 yards.