Montgomery, Ala. ---- The Hawks shook off the dust after trailing by a field-goal for eight minutes in the first quarter then went on a 54-point scoring spree. Maryville was able to steal three points from the Hawks stingy defense with 8:16 to play in the first quarter, after early mental mistakes from the Hawks offense.
With the win, the Hawks (1-0) improve to 4-2 all-time against the Scots (0-1), the Hawks are now 4-3 in season openers all-time.
“It is always nice to get a win against such a big rival,” head coach Mike Turk said. “This was a good way for us to start our season, but we still have a long way to go.”
Maryville answered first when Andrew Noboa kicked a 25-yard field-goal midway through the first quarter, after the Hawks gave them good field position from an interception. “Our defense did a great job holding the Scots to only a field-goal after we gave Maryville great field position,” said Turk.
Huntingdon found the end zone eight minutes after the Maryville field-goal, as senior Tyler Young made a spectacular grab through traffic in the back of the end zone, which capped off a four-play, 80-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass and 17 seconds to go in the first quarter. The Hawks marched down the field behind sophomore Nick Plagenhoef, who completed all four passes on the drive for 80 yards before connecting with Young to put them on the board. Plagenhoef finished his first-career start with 16-of-26 for 275 yards, including 3 touchdowns and two interceptions.
After stopping the Scots to begin the second quarter, Huntingdon marched down the field for a 8-play drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown by running back Courtney Moss making the score 14-3 with 11:28 in the first-half.
One minute after the Hawks score, Maryville’s punt was blocked by the Hawks and senior Walker Gantt picked up the ball and scored with 10:25 giving the home team a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. “Our coverage was good on special teams and it always helps when we can get a touchdown, but we’ve got to clean up some sore spots in the kicking game,” said head coach Mike Turk.
Following a defensive holding call to extend Maryville’s drive, senior Quinn Hambrite intercepted Zach Dowdy’s pass and celebrated with his teammates in the endzone after a 28-yard touchdown return. Hambrite’s recorded his first-career interception for a touchdown as a Hawk and extended the lead to 28-3, with 8:35 to go in the second quarter.
In the second half, the Scots opened up with a 13 play-drive for 52-yards, but Andrew Noboa failed to convert a 35-yard field goal.
The Hawks went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, but Carl Sanders bobbled the ball before Maryville blocked the punt and Kane Crowell recovered the ball at the Hawks ten-yard line.
The Hawks defense continued to deny Maryville points. On a fourth down attempt inside the Hawks ten yard-line, the coverage of the secondary forced an incomplete pass to Idlette in the corner of the end zone. “For the first game of the season our defense did a great job of tackling today,” Turk added. “The defense came up big for the offense and made plays, and I’m very pleased with the performance of our secondary. In particular, the cornerbacks covered and played the ball well today, especially in limiting Maryville’s big play wide receiver Wesley Idlette.” The Hawks defense held Idlette to five catches for 30 yards.
Huntingdon’s offense responded quickly after an illegal substation backed the Hawks up on their own two yard-line. Plagenhoef dropped back on the very next play and lead Cody Pearcy into the Hawks record-book with a stunning 98-yard touchdown reception extending the lead to 34-3.
Plagenhoef found Pearcy again two minutes later on a 10-yard touchdown reception, capping a seven-play drive of 63 yards to make the score 41-3.
On the day, the Hawks’ ground game gained 345 yards on 40 carries. Austin Bennett and Caleb McCants scored the final two touchdowns for the Hawks on six and eight yard carries, respectively. Trevor Manuel led the charge with 135 yards on 9 carries, while Caleb McCants recorded 120 yards rushing in his first career game with the Hawks.
“We have more depth at the running back position and we’re working on getting all of our backs experience. They took care of the ball and got a lot of yards after contact for us today. I’m happy with the way they executed all three phases of the game,” said Turk.
For the game, junior Cody Pearcy, senior Brian Watts and sophomore Trevor Manuel all caught at least three passes. Pearcy lead the air attack with six receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns, including a school-record 98 yard touchdown pass from freshman Nick Plagenhoef with 6:42 to go in the third quarter. Senior Tyler Young hauled in a nine-yard touchdown reception to put the Hawks in the lead in the first quarter.
Defensively, junior Kirk Johnson led the team with 8 total tackles, including 2.5 for loss and one pass break up. Newcomer, Cornelius Jenkins posted 7 total tackles, with both defensive linemen recording 5 total tackles. Senior Quinn Hambrite posted 6 total tackles, including his first career interception for a touchdown with 8:35 to go in the second quarter.
The Scots were led by Dustin Williams on offense, as the quarterback completed 16-of-29 passes for 119 yards. Williams connected with each Wesley Idlette and Ryan Roach five times for a total of 61 yards, while Blake Williams and Matt Likins combined for seven catches on the day. Senior Demetrius Christian led the defense with 8 total tackles.
Huntingdon will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 11, against Louisiana College in Pineville, La. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. from Wildcat Stadium.
For more information on Huntingdon athletics visit www.HuntingdonHawks.com.