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Chilly temperatures, drizzling rain, wet football field, none of those things appeared to have any effect on a well-rested Huntingdon Mustang team coming into the playoffs after having the final week …
Chilly temperatures, drizzling rain, wet football field, none of those things appeared to have any effect on a well-rested Huntingdon Mustang team coming into the playoffs after having the final week of the regular season off.
The Mustangs played host to the Moore County Raiders from Lynchburg, Tennessee and claimed a 41-19 win to open the playoffs. The Raiders were the #4 seed from Region 5A. These two teams faced each other in the second round of the playoffs last year with the Mustangs ending the Raiders season.
Moore County won the toss and elected to defer to the second half so the Mustangs received the ball first to start the contest. Huntingdon’s offense got off to a shaky start from their own 35 losing yardage on two downs and they attempted a fake punt on a fourth and long. Moore County got the ball in excellent field position at Huntingdon’s 33-yard line. The Mustang defense was stingy only allowing four yards before Dallas Willis intercepted a pass and ran it back inside the Moore County 40-yard line.
The Mustang offense went right to work this time grinding out yards with quarterback Hunter Ensley diving over the top for a touchdown capping a 5-play drive. Cole Edwards nailed the extra point for a 7-0 Huntingdon lead with 7:01 left in the first quarter.
Moore County followed with a drive of their own but they found yards hard to come by against a stingy Mustang defense. The Raiders were forced to punt from their own 35 after nine plays. The Mustangs kept it on the ground again on their third possession driving to the Raider 1-yard line where Ensley kept it again and scored with just 29 seconds left in the first quarter. Edward nailed his second extra point for a 14-0 Huntingdon lead.
Huntingdon dominated the second quarter scoring all three times they touched the ball while the Mustang defense forced Moore County into 3 three and out possessions. The first Mustang score of the second quarter came with 8:50 left in the quarter when Brandon Lawton finished a three-play drive that started at the Mustang 23. Dallas Willis began that drive with a long run to near midfield. A Moore County personal foul penalty placed the ball into Raider territory. Brandon Lawton got 22 yards down to the Moore County 25. On the next play, Lawton took it 25 yards for the score. Edwards was good on the extra point for a 21-0 lead.
The next time Huntingdon touched the ball, Dallas Willis finished off a four-play drive with a 15-yard scoring run. Edwards hit his fourth extra point in the first half with 5:21 left in the half. After another three-and-out by Moore County, Huntingdon got the ball at their own 20 and took five plays to get to the red zone where Willis got the call again this time for a 19-yard score with 44 seconds to play in the half. Edwards fifth extra point was good for a 35-0 lead heading into halftime.
Just to give an idea how dominant Huntingdon’s defense was in the first half, Moore County had only 1 first down and did not cross the 50-yard line at all in the first half.
The second half was short with a running clock. Huntingdon’s defense took up where they left off first half ending Moore County’s first possession of the third quarter with a big quarterback sack by Jalen Williams on third down forcing the Raiders to punt. The Mustangs put a fresh set of legs in the backfield with Daquon Robinson touching the ball twice for 50 yards and Konner Pearson taking it in for an 11-yard score with 5:44 left in the third quarter. Edwards missed the extra point but Huntingdon had a 41-0 lead.
The Mustangs began subbing in lots of different players after that score while Moore County kept their varsity on the field. Moore County got on the board with a 68-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Jennings to Tristian Whitaker with 2:35 left in the third quarter. The extra point was good for a 41-7 score.
Huntingdon’s second offense got a good drive going getting the ball inside the Raider 10 early in the fourth quarter but failed to convert a fourth down play. The Raiders started a long drive from their own 6 and drove the length of the field with Jennings capping off the drive with a 3-yard scoring run with 2:25 left in the contest. Their extra point was no good as the score became 41-13.
The Raiders attempted an onside kick that failed giving the Mustangs possession near midfield. Young players were in the game by this point in the contest. Huntingdon fumbled a hand-off which was recovered and returned 40-yards for a Moore County score with 2:08 left to play. The extra point again was no good with the margin shrinking to 41-19. Huntingdon’s Dallas Willis returned the ensuing kickoff nearly 60 yards to the Raider 28 where the Mustangs ran out the clock on the playoff win.
Huntingdon coach Eric Swenson was pleased with the Mustangs’ effort. “Our overall effort was great and our defense was outstanding. We worked a lot on defense in practice the last two weeks.”
The Mustangs play host to Mt. Pleasant, a 36-0 winner over Collinwood, next week in round two of the playoffs.