Huntington hits fast, hard for road game win

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

VICKSBURG &8212; For six long minutes, the Porters Chapel Eagles watched a nightmare unfold in front of them.

Mistakes, penalties, turnovers and injuries occurred in rapid

succession, and Huntington&8217;s backs ran down the field almost as quickly. By the time it was over, not even a valiant comeback could save the Eagles.

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Huntington scored three touchdowns in a little over six minutes at the start of the second half, then held off PCA for a 27-22 victory after the Eagles scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Huntington&8217;s Ricky Dunbar rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, and Jody Cottongin added 64 yards and a score.

PCA&8217;s Hayden Hales completed 13 of 21 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another score. Michael Busby caught four passes for 85 yards and a TD.

&8220;The sequence of events in the third quarter put us in a hole,&8221; PCA coach Randy Wright said. &8220;I&8217;m proud of the way the kids fought. They could have easily folded in the third quarter. They stayed in the ballgame. You&8217;ve got to be proud of that.&8221;

PCA led 9-7 at halftime, but it didn&8217;t take long for the roof to cave in.

Huntington (4-0) took the second-half kickoff and marched down the field for the go-ahead touchdown. A 28-yard run by Colin Stacey and a 30-yard jaunt by Dunbar keyed the quick five-play drive, which was capped by Dunbar&8217;s 1-yard plunge.

PCA started its next possession at its own 43, but turned it over when Hales fumbled the snap on the first play. Two plays later Cottongin scored on a 17-yard run to make it 20-9 with 9:09 left in the third quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Dunbar hit a short squibber that bounced off two PCA players and was recovered by Huntington. The Hounds then embarked on a seven-play, 35-yard drive that ended when Dunbar&8217;s 2-yard TD run gave them a commanding 27-9 advantage.

During the entire sequence, Hales&8217; fumbled snap was the only time PCA&8217;s offense stepped on the field.

&8220;You can&8217;t ever imagine anything like that happening. We blinked our eyes and they scored three touchdowns,&8221; Wright said.

After Hales threw an interception on PCA&8217;s next possession, the Eagles turned things around as quickly as they had gotten out of hand.

PCA forced Huntington to punt on the following series, then Hales found Cole Smith and Michael Busby on a pair of long passes to move the ball to the Huntington 1-yard line. Hales scored on a quarterback sneak with 10:51 left in the fourth quarter to cut it to 27-15.

Huntington drove to PCA&8217;s 10-yard line before turning it over on downs, and the Eagles took to the air again. Hales hit Spencer Pell for 34 yards and Robbie Simms for 31, before finding Busby for a 26-yard touchdown on fourth-and-12.

Busby added the extra point to bring PCA within five, 27-22, with 3:58 remaining. PCA&8217;s two scoring drives covered a total of 182 yards, and included five passes of 25 yards or more.

&8220;We got to 27-9 and just faded and let them throw the ball at will on us,&8221; Huntington coach Chad Harkins said.

PCA&8217;s defense finally stiffened and forced a punt, which was returned 23 yards by Simms to the Huntington 33.

And that was where the magic ran out.

Hales overthrew a wide-open Pell by a step on a play that would have moved the ball inside the 5, then followed that with two incompletions. On fourth down, Hales&8217; pass sailed harmlessly over

Busby&8217;s head on the right sideline and Huntington was able to run out the clock and escape with the win.

&8220;It was just will and desire to win and come back,&8221; Pell, who caught three passes for 55 yards, said of PCA&8217;s comeback bid. &8220;It&8217;s

something we can carry over. We worked hard. We just had a couple of