Offense leads Huntingdon past Ferrum in USA South debut
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – It wasn't a record-setting day for the Huntingdon offense, but Saturday's 56-35 win over Ferrum College was definitely an offensive show.
Making their USA South Athletic Conference debut, the 23rd-ranked Hawks (3-0, 1-0 USA South) rolled up 774 yards of offense and averaged 9.6 yards per play. But Ferrum (0-4, 0-1) held its own offensively for much of the game as the two teams combined for 1,316 yards of offense and 13 touchdowns.
"We've been looking forward to being a part of a conference and it was exciting to play our first conference game today," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "Today was a battle between two high-powered offenses. For the longest time, it seemed like both teams scored each time they got the ball. We forced a turnover in the first half for the difference in the score at halftime and we began to make some stops in the second half that allowed us to separate from them a little. I'm just proud of our guys for going out and getting the win."
The 774 yards of offense are the second most in Huntingdon history, behind a 784-yard performance against Westminster in 2009. Huntingdon passed for 462 yards on Saturday, the second most in a game for the Hawks. Huntingdon passed for 494 yards in a first-round playoff loss against Mississippi College in 2009.
"We had a bunch of guys play well today," Turk said. "We executed on offense and we scored on every possession in the first half, except the last one, and we scored on our first three possessions of the second half. We had a lot of guys who were unknowns coming into this season. But those guys are playing well and showing us what they can do."
Four of Huntingdon's scoring drives on Saturday lasted less than two minutes and only two of the eight scoring drives lasted longer than three minutes.
"With this being our first conference game, this was a huge win," junior receiver Brantley Carr said. "We came out and executed on offense and showed a little of what we're capable of doing. We had a lot of guys come through today. It was good to see both quarterbacks perform as well as they did and to see our offense click. We are young on offense, but when we give it everything we have, it's fun to see what our team can do."
Carr finished with a career-high five receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He was one of 10 Hawks to catch at least one pass and one of five Huntingdon players to find the end zone.
Senior running backs Austin Bennett and Garrett Fletcher combined for 177 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries. Bennett, who scored on a 65-yard run in the first four minutes of the game, finished with 117 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Fletcher added 60 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Freshman John Iwaniec picked up 71 yards on eight carries, including a 50-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Quarterbacks Taylor Hughes and Ryne Taylor each passed for more than 200 yards. Hughes was 16-of-21 for 253 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown on three carries. Taylor was 12-of-16 for 209 yards and a touchdown and ran for 27 yards on five carries.
Defensively, Huntingdon allowed 542 yards of offense as Ferrum junior Tim Reynolds accounted for 393 yards of offense. The quarterback, who was the USA South Offensive Player of the Year last season, passed for 292 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
"We knew their quarterback was going to be good. He is a great player and he is surrounded by other really talented players," Turk said. "The offense we saw today is very difficult to defend and we're not going to see many offenses like that. We still have some things to iron out on defense, but I feel good about this group. Today is not representative of how good this defense can be. We're going to keep working and we're going to keep getting better."
A week after recording 17 tackles and tying the Huntingdon record for tackles in a game, senior linebacker John-David Swiger continued to find the ball and finished with 12 tackles against Ferrum. Linebacker Jake Green finished with 10 tackles, an interception and broke up two passes.
Huntingdon travels to Wesley College on Oct. 5 for the first of three straight road games.