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No. 24 Huntingdon falls to No. 18 Berry in Rd. 1 of NCAA playoffs

Dontavion Cunningham scored one touchdown in Saturday's 34-20 loss to Berry in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. (Photo by Carrie Bump)
Dontavion Cunningham scored one touchdown in Saturday's 34-20 loss to Berry in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. (Photo by Carrie Bump)

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – The Huntingdon football team's season came to an end with a 34-20 loss at Berry College on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

The 24th-ranked Hawks battled the 18th-ranked Vikings and led 10-6 early in the second quarter. But Berry used three second-quarter touchdowns to pull away.

"It's disappointing," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "They scored three touchdowns on us in a pretty quick span in the second quarter and it got away from us. That was tough.

"But I am proud of how hard we played against a very good team. We had a lot of respect for Berry coming in and we have a lot of respect for them afterwards as well."

Huntingdon ends the season with a 9-2 record. During the past three seasons, the Hawks have won 28 games, three USA South Athletic Conference championships and made three appearances in the NCAA playoffs.

"We're fortunate to get out of here with a great victory," Berry head coach Tony Kunczewski said. "We have so much respect for Coach Turk and the Huntingdon program. They run a class program and hopefully we will be meeting each other in the playoffs for years to come."

 

Records: Huntingdon (9-2); Berry (11-0)

 

Scoring Summary: The Hawks held their own early, taking a 10-6 lead on a career-long 42-yard field goal by Chase Young in the first quarter and a 2-yard touchdown run by Dontavion Cunningham in the first two minutes of the second quarter.

But Berry controlled the remainder of the second quarter. Following Cunningham's touchdown, the Vikings returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Berry went ahead 20-10 with 8:14 left in the first half and added a third touchdown with 33 seconds left in the first half to make it a 17-point game at halftime.

The Hawks answered in the second half and pulled within seven points. Huntingdon opened the second half with an 18-play scoring drive. Freshman quarterback Michael Lambert capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Otis Porter. A 37-yard field goal by Young made it 27-20 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.

But Berry answered with 24 seconds left in the third quarter to make it a 34-20 game.

 

 

Stat Leaders

Offense

Passing: Michael Lambert: 7/16 for 117 yards, 1 TDs, 0 INTs

Receiving: Otis Porter: 6 receptions for 77 yards, 1 TD

Rushing: Vic Jerald: 15 rushes for 52 yards, 0 TD

Kicking: Chase Young: 2/2 PATs; 2/2 field goals (connected on field goals of 42 and 37 yards)

Defense

Tackles: Brandon Williams (9), Linell Tarver (8), Austin Washington (8)

Tackles For Loss: Austin Washington (2), Trey Hayes (1), Parker Allen (1), Trevor Henson (1)

Sacks: Trevor Henson (1)

 

Notable:

*Receiver Otis Porter finished the season with 53 receptions for a school-record 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 53 receptions are the fifth most in a season by a Hawk. The 11 receiving touchdowns are the second most by a Hawk and one short of the record. 

*Running back Vic Jerald finished the season with 189 carries for 997 yards and eight touchdowns. Only two Huntingdon running backs (Alex Baronich and John Iwaniec) have gained more yards in a season. Jerald's 1,437 all-purpose yards this season are also the third most in a Huntingdon season. The senior ends his career as the Hawks' third all-time leading rusher with 2,263 yards. 

*Kicker Chase Young was a perfect 49-for-49 on extra points this season and was 13-for-16 on field goals, shattering the Hawks' previous record of eight field goals in a season. His 88 points led the team in scoring this season. Young, who already owns the USA South and Huntingdon records for career extra points made will enter his senior season with 167 extra points made and a Huntingdon record 26 field goals made. 

*Linebacker Trey Hayes ends his junior season with 222 career tackles, the fifth most in program history. Former linebacker Granger Shook holds the school record with 289.

 

Quick Facts:

Saturday marked Huntingdon's fourth appearance in the NCAA playoffs since 2009 … The Hawks' nine wins this season are tied for the second most in program history. The 2015 team set the record with 10 wins and the 2016 team won nine games … The Huntingdon senior class finished with a 35-9 record in four season, the best four-year mark in program history

                                                                                                                                                          

Head Coach Mike Turk on Saturday: "It's pretty clear we didn't execute things the way we wanted to on either side of the ball, particularly in the first half. We dug ourselves a hole and you can't make mistakes like we made in the first half against a good football team and expect to have a chance. They took advantage of those mistakes and scored points. We played hard for four quarters but we lost to a pretty good football team today."

 

Turk on the mark made by this Huntingdon team: "With as many guys as we graduated last year, I'm pretty sure everyone thought we were going to be in trouble this year. And I will admit, when we had some key guys get hurt early in the year, there were times I thought we were in trouble. 

"But this football team grew up and we had guys play their tails off all year and we found a way to win. We made it through our conference schedule undefeated and had a nine-game winning streak coming into today. It was all because these guys decided they were going to be good. This is a special group.

"I told them in the locker room, I've been around a lot of football teams as a player and a coach, but I've never been around a team that accomplished as much as this team did in coming from where it started to where it finished. I will always remember that."

2017 NCAA Playoff Information
November 13, 2017 2017 NCAA Playoff Information