Huntingdon knocks off Webber International 42-28

There was only one acceptable outcome for the Huntingdon football team on Saturday.

Coming off a disappointing loss to nationally-ranked Trinity University last week, the Hawks needed to bounce back with a win against Webber International University. The Hawks scored four first-half touchdowns and sealed the game with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to knock off Webber 42-28 at Samford Stadium.

"It was very important for us to come out and get the win today," said junior defensive lineman D.J. Chappell, who had five tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss in the game. "We've got two more big games ahead of us, so it was important to come out today and keep getting better."

Running back Trevor Manuel ran for three touchdowns and passed for another and quarterback Neal Posey passed for two touchdowns and hauled in Manuel's halfback pass to lead the Huntingdon offense.

"The important thing for us today was to get the win," said Manuel, who rushed for 91 yards. "We've had a sick feeling for the past week and this win was good for us."

Manuel scored on a pair of 5-yard runs in the first quarter, the second one set up by Wykein Dean's blocked punt. Manuel connected with Posey for a 14-yard score in the second quarter and Posey hit Cody Pearcy for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 28-0.

Pearcy's touchdown, the 22nd of his career, tied Jacob Godwin's school-record. Pearcy finished with 129 yards on six receptions and Posey was 22-of-26 for 289 yards and an interception.

When Posey found Willie McDowell for a 3-yard touchdown strike and a 21-point lead early in the fourth quarter, it looked like the game was all but in hand. It wasn't that easy though.

The Hawks (6-2) had to hold on as the Warriors (1-6) rallied to make it a 35-28 game with 5:20 to play in the game.

"I wasn't surprised that they made a second-half push," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "They've got some good athletes and good players on their team. I was proud of the job our defense did with them in the first half. When we were scoring in the first half, we knew every point we could get would be big."

In the fourth quarter, Webber scored twice in a little more than five minutes to make it a seven-point game. That's when the Hawks' determination to win seemed to take over.

On its final scoring drive, Huntingdon marched 67 yards in seven plays. The Hawks converted on third-and-seven and fourth-and-one to help put the game away.  

"When all 11 of us on offense come out and do our job, it's hard for people to stop us," Manuel said. "On our last touchdown, everyone on offense was doing his job. All 11 of us executed, it paid off and we were able to finish strong."

On fourth-and-one at the Webber 31, Manuel broke loose for a touchdown and a 14-point lead with 1:35 to play.

"I don't know that our guys could have blocked much better on that play," Turk said. "We were just trying to run out the clock at that point. We were in four-down territory and we knew we were going to run it and they knew we were going to run it. When the other team knows that you're going to run the ball, and you can still make a play like that, that says something."

Turk also pointed to the third-and-seven play as a crucial down. On the play, Posey found Pearcy for a 24-yard gain to the Webber 40-yard line.

"There were a couple of times when we really needed a big play, and Posey found the receiver and made a great throw," Turk said. "Cody made several big catches, but I don't think any of them were any bigger than that last one. He had to come back to get the ball and he took a good hit. But it kept our drive alive and allowed us to score our final touchdown."

The Huntingdon defense finished off the game with Chappell recording a sack on the final play of the game. Along with Chappell's two sacks, Randy Bethune had two sacks, five tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in his first start. Zach Elkins also had two sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. Jimmy Rich and Dakota Hooper led the defense with six tackles apiece. Keith Anthony picked off his sixth pass of the season and 19th of his career.