The Huntland High School Hornets lost to the Huntingdon Mustangs 42-10 at home Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A state playoffs.
The Hornets kept the score close in the first half, but the Mustangs pulled away in the final two quarters to bring Huntland’s playoff run to an end.
Huntland head football coach Bob Robertson said his team put in a strong effort against the talented Mustangs with their season on the line.
“We played a team that’s a little bit better than us, but I thought our kids fought their guts out and played hard,” Robertson said. “That’s all I could ask for from them today.”
The Hornets started the game with the ball and moved into enemy territory after a 36-yard pass from Payton Reed to Garrett Jernigan.
The drive would end in a 37-yard field goal by Abraham Morris to give the Hornets a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest.
The Hornets forced a punt on their first defensive drive to get the ball right back, but a series of false-start penalties would hinder the ensuing drive.
Robertson said that penalties like that made it difficult for his team to get momentum built up against a tough opponent like Huntingdon.
“That’s one of those things we knew we couldn’t afford to do in this game. We had to come in and play clean football,” Robertson said. “There were a couple of times that we got ourselves in situations that we couldn’t get out of.”
The Mustangs would get excellent field position after blocking a punt from the Hornets, and they scored a touchdown two plays later to make it 7-3 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Hornets were held to another punt on their next offensive drive with the Mustangs striking quickly for a second touchdown to grow the lead to 13-3 early in the second quarter.
The Mustangs brought the ball into Huntland territory again on their next drive, but the Hornets held strong to force a turnover on downs.
With time running out in the first half, the Hornets were able to drive to midfield and appeared to bring the ball into enemy territory with another pass from Reed to Jernigan. However, the play would be called back due to an ineligible player being downfield.
The drive would later end in a punt in the final seconds of the half.
The Hornets trailed 13-3 at halftime.
The Mustangs started the second half with the ball and scored in just four plays to quickly grow the deficit to 21-3.
The Hornets were stuffed on a fourth-down run on their first drive of the half, and the Mustangs marched down the field and scored again to make it 28-3 with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
The Mustangs continued their attack in the fourth quarter as they added two more touchdowns to stretch the deficit to 39 points with four minutes remaining.
The Hornets were able to score a touchdown on their final drive as Reed connected with Jernigan on a 74-yard pass to make it 42-10 with one minute remaining.
The Mustangs recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock from there as the Hornets lost by 32.
Payton Reed finished the game with six completions for 124 passing yards.
Jernigan caught two passes for 110 receiving yards on the day.
Kolbi Stewart carried the ball 18 times for 58 yards and also caught a pass for 12 yards.
Cameron Reed had 20 carries in the contest for 44 yards.
Robertson expressed pride in his players after the game for what they had accomplished over the course of the season.
“They fought hard for us. We love them. I think they’ve grown up and become men this year,” he said. “For the ones coming back, we’re going to work on Monday because we’ve got a taste in our mouth and we want to get back.”
With the loss, the Hornets finished their season with a record of 9-4.