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Mustangs thrash Cornersville 54-7, advance to quarterfinals

For the past two seasons the Huntingdon Mustang football team has gone undefeated during the regular season only to see it end at the hands of Cornersville. Both of those losses came in the quarterfinals of the Class 1-A playoffs by scores of 21-20 and 13-7. Friday night at Paul Ward Stadium, the Mustangs had a shot at revenge in the second round of the playoffs, and Huntingdon responded with a stifling defense and an opportunistic offense to destroy the Bulldogs 54-7 and advance to play at Huntland this Friday in a quarterfinal matchup with the Hornets.

The Mustang defense had one of their better games this season as they held the Bulldogs to zero yards offense until the last two possessions of the game when the Bulldogs gained 92 yards against the Mustang reserves. The Bulldogs finished the game with 84 yards rushing and 8 yards through the air for the game. The Mustangs recorded four sacks in the game with Jaylen Williams collecting three of those.

The Mustang offense totaled 365 yards as they rushed for 300 yards and completed 4-5 passing for 65 yards. 

The Mustangs took advantage of great field position created by their defense in the first quarter to get off to a 19-0 lead. The Mustangs started their first four drives of the game in Cornersville territory and converted all four times. Brandon Lawton led the Mustangs with 131 yards and three TD’s on just nine carries. Noah Belew caught four passes for 65 yards and two TD’s. Konnor Pearson rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Ensley picked up 25 yards rushing and a touchdown, and he threw for two TD’s. Aden Hutcherson ran for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Bo McLemore set the tone for the Mustang victory when he took the opening kickoff. As the Bulldogs tried a squib kick, McLemore scooped the ball up at the Mustang 35, weaved his way through traffic and broke loose but was tackled at the Bulldog 2. Huntingdon was penalized five yards, but Ensley found a hole from the seven, and the Mustangs were in the end zone with the first score of the game. Cole Edwards came on and gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead with the P.A.T. with 11:01 remaining in the first.

The Mustangs then got the ball back at the 50 and headed toward the Bulldog end zone on a six-play drive that was capped off by a five-yard run by Lawton with 6:11 remaining in the first. The extra point was missed and the Mustangs led 13-0. The Mustang kickoff coverage stopped the Bulldogs at their own 10 and forced a punt that Lawton returned 30 yards to the Bulldog 28. Four plays later Ensley connected with Belew for a 13-yard pass for the touchdown. The Mustangs went for two but were stopped short. HHS led 19-0 with 1:30 left in the first.

Huntingdon’s defense forced a fumble on the Bulldogs next possession, and the Mustangs recovered at the Bulldog 28. The Mustangs ran two plays for a first down to finish the first quarter, and Pearson put the Mustangs on the board again with an 18-yard touchdown run off an option play on the first play of the second quarter. Lawton ran in the two-point conversion with 11:51 left in the half to give the Mustangs a 27-0 lead.

A Williams sack forced another Cornersville punt after the Mustang score, and the Mustangs took over at their own 47. On the next play Lawton raced 53 yards for the score with 9:31 left in the half. The extra point was missed, leaving the score at 33-0. 

The Mustangs then got the ball back on downs, took over at their own 47 and added the final points of the half by going to the air. Ensley found Belew for 37 yards on first down, and after an eight-yard run by Ensley, he once again connected with Belew for eight yards and the touchdown with 3:24 remaining in the half. Edwards was good on the P.A.T., and the Mustangs took a 40-0 lead to the half.

Cornersville started the second half with the football but punted. Huntingdon started from the Bulldog 45, and Lawton ended the drive with a 35-yard run for the touchdown with 6:02 left in the third. Edwards gave the Mustangs a 47-0 lead with the P.A.T. Huntingdon’s second team offense got in on the act on the Mustangs’ next possession as they went 64 yards in seven plays and scored on a 25-yard run by Aden Hutcherson with 9:15 left in the game. Edwards made the score 54-0 with the extra point.

The Bulldogs got on the board late in the game, going 71 yards in four plays as Carson Warner scored on an eight-yard run with six minutes left in the game. Jackson Williams converted the extra point for the final score, and the Mustangs advanced on with a 54-7 victory. 

The Mustangs will make a 204-mile ride to Huntland Friday night to face the Hornets, who are the one seed from Region 5-1A and have a 9-3 record with one of their wins coming on a forfeit with Fayetteville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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