Hawks defense key to homecoming victory

Posted by: Mario Hendricks - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL - The Huntingdon defense allowed just 175 total yards, while its offense averaged better than seven yards per play in a 40-14 Homecoming victory over Greenville College Saturday afternoon at Samford Stadium.

With the win, the Hawks improved to 6-1 on the season, while the Panthers fell to 4-2 overall.

The Hawks defense scattered just 77 yards on the ground on 42 rushing attempts, an average of 1.8 yards per carry. Forced to throw, the Panthers managed just 98 yards through the air, and just 42 total yards in the second half.

"I was proud of the way we came out," head coach Mike Turk said. "Our defense played as good as it has all year and we were able to move the ball well on offense. Mix in a special-teams score and this was a true three-phase win."

Huntingdon jumped out to a 19-0 lead in the contest on three straight passing touchdowns by senior Justin Ridgeway in the first quarter. Ridgeway finished the game 18-of-27 for 336 yards and four touchdowns.

Junior Brian Watts put the Hawks on the board just over three minutes into the contest on a 22-yard TD reception, capping a nine-play, 69-yard drive.

After the defense forced a fumble on the first possession by the Panthers, sophomore Cody Pearcy quickly made Greenville pay by hauling in a 30-yard touchdown strike from Ridgeway with 5:12 remaining in the opening period. Pearcy, who added second touchdown early in the second quarter, finished the game with four catches for 147 yards, his second straight 100-yard receiving game.

Junior Walker Gantt scored his first touchdown of the season with 1:49 left in the first quarter on a 15-yard reception, which capped a five-play, 70-yard drive.

Greenville stayed close with a pair of first-half touchdowns, one on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Harris to Zach Friedrich late in the first quarter and a 13-yard TD catch by Ketrone Blanks with 3:32 remaining before the half.

"We hit a little bit of a lull in the second quarter and let them score the last points of the second half," Turk continued. "The put a sour taste in our mouth at halftime, so I challenged the defense and man, did they respond."

In the second half, the Hawks scored its first touchdown on a blocked punt by junior Spencer Williams. After Williams blocked the Jeremy Burrows punt deep in Greenville territory, sophomore Kaleb Futral recovered the ball in the end zone, giving the Hawks a 33-14 lead.

Senior Alex Baronich added the final score of the game with 11:54 left in the contest on a five-yard run, his tenth of the season. Despite finishing with a season-low 38 rushing yards, Baronich found paydirt and is within one TD of tying Jamal Gardner's single-season record.

Ridgeway led the Hawks with 80 yards on the ground on 12 carries, while freshman Trevor Manuel added 52 yards on 10 rushes.

Defensively, sophomore Kirk Johnson led the team with eight total tackles, including five solo stops and one for loss. Senior Chad Hatfield added seven tackles, while junior Quinn Hambrite posted four tackles and 1.5 for loss. Senior Ahmaad McClaney chipped in two tackles, one for loss, and added an interception and two pass break ups.

Huntingdon will conclude its home slate of games on Saturday, Oct. 31, when it hosts LaGrange at 1 p.m.

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