MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon football team came through with big plays on offense, defense and special teams to beat Maryville College 45-35 on Saturday.
The Hawks took the lead midway through the second quarter and would not trail for the remainder of the game. But Maryville would not go quietly.
The Hawks used a timely kickoff return for a touchdown, an opportunistic passing game and a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter to put the Scots away.
With the win, Huntingdon improved to 11-3 all-time against Maryville.
Freshman Malachi Harvey provided one of the early sparks for the Hawks. Following Maryville's second touchdown of the game and a 13-7 lead for the Scots, Harvey tied a program record by returning the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Cole Starr's extra point gave the Hawks the lead.
A 7-yard touchdown run by Eric Thomas and a 28-yard field goal by Starr closed the first-half scoring and put Huntingdon in front 31-20 at the half.
Quarterback Michael Lambert passed for a career-high 403 yards to go with four touchdown passes. Lambert connected with Otis Porter seven times for 175 yards and three touchdowns. The Hawks' career leader in touchdown receptions, Porter's touchdowns covered 33 yards, 30 yards and 71 yards.
Lambert's final scoring pass, an 8-yard touchdown to Colton Chinn, gave the Hawks a 45-28 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
The Huntingdon defense, after struggling to stop Maryville early in the game, came through with a key fourth-and-goal stop to help seal the game in the fourth quarter. Still leading 45-28, with a little less than six minutes to play in the game, defensive back Fred Flavors broke up a Maryville pass on fourth-and-goal from the Huntingdon 3-yard line.
Records: Huntingdon (3-2, 2-0 USA South); Maryville (0-5, 0-2 USA South)
The Turning Point: Two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the third quarter allowed Huntingdon to turn a three-point game into a 17-point game.
Leading 31-28, Lambert and Porter connected for a 71-yard touchdown with 3:56 left in the third quarter. After the defense stopped Maryville on the ensuing possession, Lambert and Cody Dwyer hooked up on a 53-yard pass that set up Lambert's 8-yard touchdown pass to Chinn with 41 seconds left in the quarter.
Notable Performances: Porter and Lambert paced the Huntingdon offense on Saturday. Porter's 175 yards are the sixth most in a game by a Huntingdon receiver and his three touchdown receptions tied the school record set in 2005 by Mark Colson. The Huntingdon single-game record has been reached 10 times. This is the third time Porter has tied the mark in his career and the second time this season.
Lambert completed 22 passes to eight different receivers and averaged better than 18 yards per completion. His 403 yards marked just the sixth time a Huntingdon quarterback has thrown for more than 400 yards.
Porter moves to second in career receiving yards: With 175 yards on Saturday, Porter pushed his career total to 2,574 and passed Jacob Godwin for second-place in Hawks' history. Cody Pearcy holds the Huntingdon record with 2,632 yards.
100-yard duo: Porter and Dwyer (103 yards) each finished with more than 100 yards receiving against Maryville. This is just the eighth time two Huntingdon receivers have gained more than 100 yards in the same game.
Harvey makes his mark: Harvey's 90-yard kickoff return tied the school record set by Drew Harrell in 2008. Harvey is just the seventh Hawk to return a kickoff for a touchdown and the first since 2015.
Passing: Michael Lambert: 22/36 for 403 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT
Receiving: Otis Porter: 7 receptions for 175 yards, 3 TDs
Cody Dwyer: 4 receptions for 103 yards
Colton Chinn: 8-yard touchdown reception
Rushing: Eric Thomas: 12 rushes for 60 yards, 1 TD
Kicking: Cole Starr: 6/6 PAT; 1/2 field goals (28-yard field goal)
Tackles For Loss: Haylan Bailey (2)
Quarterback Hurries: DeAnte' Griffith (2)
Interceptions: Ke'Darius Thornton (1 for 7 yards)
Blocked Kicks: Fred Flavors (1)
Head Coach Mike Turk on Saturday's win: "We have a lot of respect for Maryville and we knew what we were going to get. They have some players on offense and their defense is really good. I thought our coaches did a good job of making adjustments during the game and that proved to be the difference.
"We were struggling to stop them early, but we made some adjustments and made some stops. We made some adjustments on offense as well and we executed some things in the passing game and were able to move the football. The difference in the game was our ability to make and execute those adjustments."
Turk on the emergence of the passing game: "We knew it was going to be hard to run the ball on Maryville. They always have a good rushing defense. We have not been very proficient at throwing the football this season and we have been a little one-dimensional at times. I was concerned about that going in.
"But I think our coaches had a really good plan and we executed some things in the passing game really well. We missed a couple of big plays, but for the most part we made the plays we needed to make."
Turk on the continued progress of the defense: "We gave up some yards today, but we also made some really big plays on defense. We have some guys who are giving us everything they have and we are getting better. Today, our defensive backs made some really big plays and broke up some passes that could have been really big plays for them. When we watch the film we're going to see that we're still making a lot of mistakes. But we have to keep grinding and keep working and continue to get better."
Coming Up: Huntingdon plays at Brevard on Oct. 19 at noon (Central).