LaGRANGE, Ga. – The Huntingdon Hawks scored four touchdowns in the second quarter and rolled by LaGrange 62-17 on Saturday night.
Coming off a disappointing loss to now 18th-ranked Birmingham-Southern, the Hawks responded with an improved performance in every phase of the game.
"I wasn't really sure what to expect tonight, from LaGrange or from us," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "I knew LaGrange was going to come out and play hard, but coming off of last week's loss, I wasn't sure how we would respond. I was very pleased to see that we were ready to play. We still have things to work on in all phases of the game, but we did some good things. We're not where we need to be yet, but we're going to keep grinding and continue to stay hungry."
Huntingdon's scoring performance on Saturday is tied for second highest in program history. The Huntingdon record of 76 points was set against Principia in 2008. The Hawks also scored 62 points against Eureka in 2008 and 62 points in an overtime win against Louisiana College in 2010.
With the win, Huntingdon (2-1) improves to 6-1 against LaGrange (0-3) and has won four straight against the Panthers.
Huntingdon running back Trevor Manuel accounted for four touchdowns on 11 touches Saturday. Manuel carried the ball 10 times, gained 105 yards and rushed for three touchdowns for the third time in three games. Manuel scored the Hawks' first touchdown on a 63-yard run in the first quarter and also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Neal Posey.
Posey was 14-of-17 for 343 yards and three touchdowns in the game. In addition to Manuel, Posey connected with Austin Worley for a 58-yard score and a 22-yard score. Worley finished with three catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Robinson added three catches for 66 yards.
Running back Garrett Fletcher and backup quarterbacks Ryne Taylor and Taylor Hughes each rushed for a touchdown. David Ballard kicked seven extra points and Jimbo Turk kicked one. As a team, Huntingdon finished with 602 yards of offense on 57 plays.
In addition to the improved play on both sides of the ball, Turk said he was glad to be able to get a lot of young players into the game. The Hawks began to make mass substitutions in the third quarter.
"It always makes you feel good when you can get the young guys in to play," Turk said. "We were able to get Ryne and Taylor in at quarterback for some good reps and I remember looking up and seeing all of our young linebackers (Willie Vinson, Quan Nelson and Jacard Townsend) getting after it in the second half. Games like this are huge for the experience they can provide to young players."
The Hawks blew the game open in the second quarter. Trailing 10-7 after one quarter, Huntingdon scored eight straight touchdowns, including four in the second quarter, before LaGrange scored again with 5:31 to play in the game.
Fletcher's 2-yard scoring run made it 14-10 with 14:25 left in the first half. Following a quick defensive stop, the Hawks marched 79 yards. A 16-yard run by Manuel capped the drive and made it a 21-10 game. Manuel struck again on the Hawks' next possession, capping a 45-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring run. The Hawks' final score of the second quarter was set up by linebacker Darius Dixon's interception at the Huntingdon 30-yard line. Huntingdon scored in five plays as Posey connected with Worley for the 58-yard touchdown.
"We got off to a good start in the first quarter and we executed well on offense," Turk said. "The second quarter was the turning point and the defense played a big role. We were able to get some quick stops on defense and a turnover to set up a score.
"I was proud of our defense. We gave up some plays and there are still things we need to improve on, but for the most part, we tackled well and we got guys to the ground. Our guys turned in an effort we can build on."
Dixon and fellow linebacker Zach Brownell set the tone for the defense. Brownell finished with a team-high six tackles and Dixon recorded five tackles and forced two fumbles to go with his interception. Defensive end Blake Lawley also made an interception, defensive tackle D.J. Chappell forced a fumble and Jay Brown had a fumble recovery.
The Hawks travel to 24th-ranked Hampden-Sydney next week. It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams. Huntingdon picked up its first victory against the Tigers last season with a 34-27 win at Samford Stadium.