BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Huntingdon football team rallied from a disastrous first half to knock off Birmingham-Southern 45-38 on Saturday night and bring home the Wesley Cup for a second straight year.
Despite falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter and having three starters leave the game with injuries, the Hawks battled back to outscore the Panthers 28-7 in the final two quarters.
Senior running back Vic Jerald scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Blaise Schillace to tie the game 38-38 with 10 minutes to play in the game. Jerald gave the Hawks the lead for good with a 4-yard touchdown run with 8:45 to play.
The Huntingdon defense made the lead stand, stopping Birmingham-Southern on fourth down on the Panthers' final three drives. The last fourth-down stop came with 1:14 left in the game.
Records: Huntingdon (1-1); Birmingham-Southern (1-1)
The Turning Point: Trailing 31-17 late in the third quarter, Huntingdon took advantage of two Birmingham-Southern turnovers and scored 28 points in a span of a little more than 10 minutes.
Following a 14-yard touchdown run by Kobe Smith to make it 31-24 with 3:49 left in the third quarter, linebacker Trey Hayes recovered a Birmingham-Southern fumble at the Panthers' 9-yard line. Two plays later, Schillace found Colton Chinn for a 7-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 31-31.
Birmingham-Southern scored 13 seconds into the fourth quarter to take a 38-31 lead, but the Hawks answered. Jerald's 18-yard touchdown reception from Schillace capped a 69-yard drive to tie the game.
On Birmingham-Southern's ensuing possession, Huntingdon senior Austin Washington intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards to the Panthers' 4-yard line. Jerald scored from there to give the Hawks the lead.
Notable Performance: Vic Jerald finished with 274 all-purpose yards on Saturday – 13 yards short of the Hawks' single-game record of 287. Jerald averaged seven yards per carry as he rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown. He caught one pass for an 18-yard score and added 95 yards on five kick returns. His 73-yard run early in the second quarter set up the Hawks' second touchdown of the game. The 73-yard burst was the second longest of his career and tied for the fifth longest run from scrimmage in Huntingdon history.
Passing: Schillace: 7/13 for 115 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Receiving: Otis Porter: 3 receptions for 94 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Jerald: 23 rushes for 161 yards, 1 TD
Smith: 16 rushes for 99 yards, 1 TD
Kicking: Chase Young: 6/6 PAT, 1/1 field goals (connected on a 36-yard FG)
Overall: Hayes: 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 fumble recoveries
Washington: 6 tackles, 1 interception for 36 yards, 1 pass broken up
Tackles For Loss: Jones (1)
Interceptions: Jarrett White (1)
Did You Know?: Huntingdon has a 4-4 all-time record against Birmingham-Southern and has won three of the last four meetings … Saturday's win marked the first time the Hawks have won consecutive games against the Panthers and the first win in Birmingham since 2009
Head Coach Mike Turk on his team's refusal to quit on Saturday: "I'm proud of the guys for the way we played in the second half. We had a lot going against us in the first half with mistakes and guys getting hurt. There were a lot of reasons you could point to as to why we shouldn't win the game.
"But these guys pulled together and found a way to win. When we had to have it on offense, we got it done. When we had to have it on defense, we got it done. I can't say enough about how proud I am of the way we kept believing and kept playing hard. We fought back into it and we found a way to win."
Turk on battling through injuries: "(Starting quarterback) Chip Taylor got hurt scoring our first touchdown. Blaise came in, and he made some mistakes. Anytime you are forced into action, especially at the quarterback position, it's pretty tough. But Blaise played well enough to help us win. I'm proud of the way he played for the team.
"It wasn't just at quarterback. (Offensive tackle) Kodee Kuncho went down in the first half and Connor Caldwell came in and played well. (Defensive back) Demetrius Brown got hurt and Charlie Jones had to step in. A lot of guys stepped in and stepped up for the team to help us get the win. I'm proud of them for getting it done."
Coming Up: Huntingdon returns home to open USA South Athletic Conference play with North Carolina Wesleyan on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.