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HUNTINGDON (November 29) — The Huntingdon Mustangs saw their season come to an end Friday with a 30-20 loss to Lake County in the TSSAA Class 1A State Football Semifinals. The Mustangs were …
HUNTINGDON (November 29) — The Huntingdon Mustangs saw their season come to an end Friday with a 30-20 loss to Lake County in the TSSAA Class 1A State Football Semifinals. The Mustangs were seeking their first finals appearance since 2012.
The atmosphere was electric at Paul Ward Stadium as an estimated 4,000-plus fans packed the home and visitor stands, overflow bleachers, grass and against the fence.
The Falcons took the momentum early, but Huntingdon scored a much-needed touchdown just before the half to keep the game in reach at 24-12. After a scoreless third, Lake County sealed the contest with a touchdown early in the final frame. The Mustangs never gave up, battling for a late score, but the Falcons drained the clock for the victory.
Lake County won the coin toss and elected to defer possession to the second half.
The Mustangs received the opening kickoff and started at their own 30. The Falcon defense forced a three-and-out, and Huntingdon punted.
The Falcons began their first drive at their own 37. Larry Tubbs ran 12 yards, then repeated for a 51-yard touchdown. Quarterback Tanner Snyder kept for two points, and Lake County led 8-0 with just under ten minutes to play in the first frame.
Huntingdon started the ensuing drive at the 26. Mustang Brandon Lawton ran twice for a first down, then quarterback Hunter Ensley was stopped for no gain on a keeper. Lawton took it for a first down, and a Lake County penalty added to the end of the run. On first down at the Falcon 30, Lawton gained ten on two tries to move the chains again. Ensley kept for a short loss, then Lawton made a short gain. Ensley gained a few to bring up fourth down at the 20, and Cole Edwards missed the field goal attempt.
The Falcons took over, but the Mustang defense forced a three-and-out. A short punt by Tubbs went out of bounds at the Huntingdon 48.
Ensley started with a 35-yard completion to Ethan Reliford, then Lawton ran for ten. On first-and-goal at the 7, Lawton gained three. Ensley kept for two, then punched it in from the 2. Edwards missed the PAT, and the Mustangs still trailed 8-6 with a minute and a half remaining in the first.
Lake County went three-and-out again as the game moved into the second quarter. The punt was downed at the Huntingdon 44.
A false start on first down set the Mustangs back, and they went three-and-out. Edwards punted into the end zone for a touchback.
Tubbs took the first snap 69 yards, then Snyder kept for an eleven-yard touchdown. He repeated for two points, and the Falcons led 16-6 with nine minutes to play before intermission.
Ensley returned the ensuing kickoff to the end zone, but a penalty for a block in the back negated the score. Backed up to start the drive at the far 37, it was quickly third-and-14. Ensley found Reliford for 29 yards to extend the possession. Ensley threw incomplete, then kept for eight yards. Lawton ran for seven and a first down, then made a short gain. A penalty on the next play backed the Mustangs up to the 27. Ensley threw incomplete three times, and Lake County took over on downs.
Snyder kept the first snap for a 73-yard touchdown, then added two points for a 24-6 Falcon lead with 4:28 left in the first half.
Ensley returned the kick from near the 25 to the 34. A false start cost five yards, but Devin McClerkin gained just enough for a first down. After another false start, Ensley’s pass was picked off by Falcon Cayden Puckett at the 30.
The Mustang defense minimized the miscue by forcing a three-and-out. The punt was downed at the Mustang 32.
Ensley went to the air again, throwing incomplete, then finding Bo McLemore for a 68-yard touchdown. Ensley was stopped short on the two-point attempt, but Huntingdon cut the deficit to 24-12 with under a minute until halftime.
The Falcons received the kick and ran three plays before time expired.
Lake County got the ball to start the second half, but turned it over on downs on a fourth-and-three at the Falcon 28.
The Mustangs had the advantage of a short field, but a second-down fumble was recovered by the Falcons at the 27.
Defense dominated the remainder of the third quarter as neither team managed a first down in five combined possessions.
Huntingdon took over on the final play of the frame with Ensley scrambling for no gain. The first play of the fourth quarter resulted in a fumble recovered by Lake County at the Mustang 37.
Snyder kept for four, the Tubbs gained eleven for a first down. He repeated for six, then scored from the 17. Tubbs was stopped short on the two-point conversion, but the lead was up to 30-12 with under ten minutes to play.
Lawton picked up the kickoff inside the 25 and tossed it back to Ensley, who made a good return to the Huntingdon 45. Reliford gained a yard, then Lawton went 12 for a first down across midfield. Reliford gained three, then Ensley kept three times for 20 total yards. Ensley threw to Reliford for 12 and a first-and-goal at the 9, then kept twice. On third-and-goal near the 8, he threw to Quinton Williams for a short gain. On fourth down, Ensley scrambled and dove into the pylon for a five-yard touchdown. He punched it in for two points, and the deficit was cut to 20-30 with just over three minutes remaining in the contest.
The Falcons recovered the onside kick attempt and kept the ball on the ground. One first down was enough to wind down the clock and claim the win.
Huntingdon ends the season with a record of 13-1.
Lake County improves to 14-0 and advances to Friday’s Class 1A title game against Greenback (12-2) at 11 a.m. at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.