JACKSON, Miss. – Running back Trevor Manuel accounted for four touchdowns, quarterback Neal Posey threw two more and the Huntingdon defense provided several crucial stops as the 24th-ranked Hawks downed Millsaps on Saturday.
The Hawks took a three-touchdown lead into the fourth quarter and handed the Majors their first loss of the season, 45-24.
"This was the most complete game we've played this season," Huntingdon head football coach Mike Turk said. "This was a three-phase, four-quarter team win. We played well for four quarters against a very good team. We did what we needed to do on offense and took advantage of some opportunities to score. Our kicking game was solid and defensively, we were able to stop the run and that was priority No. 1.
"This was an overall win, offense, defense and special teams. Every phase played a role in this one."
Turk pointed to four first-half possessions that helped set the tone for the game.
On the opening drive of the game, the Majors marched 50 yards to the Huntingdon 18-yard line in three plays. Millsaps reached the Huntingdon 8 and had first-and-goal before the Hawks (5-1) forced the Majors (4-1) to settle for a 21-yard field goal. Huntingdon responded with a 41-yard scoring drive that ended with a 29-yard touchdown run by Manuel.
Two possessions later, Millsaps drove to the Huntingdon 16. The Hawks forced Millsaps to attempt a field goal, but a bad snap ended the threat.
On Millsaps' final possession of the first half, with 30 seconds left and the Majors facing second-and-10 at the Huntingdon 14, senior defensive tackle D.J. Chappell sacked Millsaps quarterback Garrett Pinciotti and forced a fumble that Zack Davis recovered to help the Hawks carry a 21-10 lead into the half.
Chappell finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss to go with the forced fumble.
"Each of those was a major turning point for us," Turk said. "Holding them to a field goal and then scoring to go up 7-3 was a big plus for us. The bad snap helped us maintain a 7-3 lead and Chap's play before the half was huge. Being inside our 20, they were either going to get points with a field goal or a touchdown but Chap got the ball back for us and gave us a big lift going into the half."
Manuel also gave the Hawks a lift. The senior, who entering the game led all of Division III in points scored (84) and was fourth in points per game (16.8), had a hand in Huntingdon's first three touchdowns and finished the game with two rushing touchdowns and two touchdown passes.
Manuel rushed for 98 yards on 25 carries and was 2-for-2 for 52 yards passing. In addition to his 29-yard run, he also scored on a 1-yard run and completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Belsterling and a 20-yard scoring strike to Austin Worley.
Manuel, the Hawks' career rushing leader, has completed 10-of-16 passes for 259 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception in four seasons.
Kicker David Ballard's 38-yard field goal gave the Hawks a 31-10 lead late in the third quarter. Ballard also kicked six extra points.
Huntingdon now faces two straight off weeks before returning to action at Samford Stadium on Oct. 27 against the sixth-ranked Wesley Wolverines.
"This was a big win because we beat a good team, but it was also big for us going into back-to-back off weeks," Turk said. "The next two weeks would have been miserable with a loss today. We hope to take this win and continue to build off of it.
"We want to use the next two weeks to get refreshed, heal up and catch our breath. We're going to keep working, stay sharp and try to get ready for Wesley at the end of October."