Wildcats lose 4th quarter lead, fall to Huntingdon on the road 34-27
After their last matchup in the 2010 season went down as an instant classic with Huntingdon winning 62-56 in overtime, it was no surprise that Saturday's contest between the Hawks and Louisiana College, played at James Samford, Jr. Stadium in Montgomery, AL, once again went down to the wire.
With LC leading 27-20 after an explosive 85 yard touchdown run with 14 minutes left in the 4th quarter, it appeared as though the Wildcats had seized momentum after a rough offensive showing in the first half.
However, on Huntingdon's ensuing possession, the Hawks' were able to go 76 yards on six plays in only two minutes, capped by a six yard touchdown run by Garrett Fletcher. LC's defense, visibly worn down after being on the field for most of the first half, appeared to have Fletcher corralled for a big loss, but the Huntingdon running back was able to shake off several tackles, reverse fields and tie the game at 27 after a David Ballard extra point.
LC's next offensive possession would prove to be the turning point in the game, as Ryan Montague was stripped at the Huntingdon 26-yard line with the Wildcats driving and looking to be on the verge of taking back the lead. Huntingdon's Derick Bothwell recovered, taking the breath away from an LC offense that showed significant improvement and intensity after halftime.
After both teams traded punts on their next two drives, the Hawks' took possession at their own 1-yard line with just over five minutes remaining in the contest. Huntingdon quarterback Taylor Hughes, who came into the game in relief of starter Ryne Taylor, would take control from there, leading the Hawks' on a 10 play, 99 yard drive over the next three minutes and 49 seconds, capped by a touchdown pass from Hughes to Huntingdon's 6-foot-5 receiver Taylor Beisterling, who was able to use his size to go over the top of LC's defense on a jump ball and put LC in a 34-27 hole, which was the eventual final score.
The Wildcats were able to come from behind twice at earlier times in the game, as the Hawks took a 7-0 lead before they ever touched the ball on offense when Jeremy Murphy blocked a Tim Willett punt, picked up the ball and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. LC would answer that score with a 10 yard interception return from Richard Jefferson on Huntingdon's first drive of the 2nd quarter.
Huntingdon then took a 20-7 lead after two touchdown receptions from Jamichael Bibb and Darius Dawsey. But a 53 yard punt return by Ira Jewitt with two minutes left before halftime set up Ryan Montague's first touchdown, a two yarder that put the Wildcats' within a touchdown at 20-14.
LC tied the game at 20 on their final possession of the 3rd quarter as Easton Melancon, making his first career start in LC's blue and orange, tossed a seven yard touchdown to Farron Jones to tie the game at 20. It was Jones' first career touchdown reception, as the led the Wildcats with 5 catches for 79 yards.
Montague, despite the fumble, had his best game of the 2013 season to this point, running for 191 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.
Huntingdon's ability to slow down LC's fierce pass rush, which led the nation in sacks coming into the afternoon, was a key difference in the Hawks' ability to roll up 415 total yards on the day. The Wildcats finished with just one sack, which came from junior defensive tackle Preston Thibeaux.
The Wildcats, now 2-1 on the season, will get a much needed bye week before hitting the road once again on October 5th, as they open up American Southwest Conference play in Brownwood, TX against Howard Payne.