LAGRANGE, Ga. – The Huntingdon football team closed out the regular season with a 27-17 win over LaGrange College on Saturday.
A week after clinching a third straight USA South Athletic Conference championship, the 24th-ranked Hawks pushed their conference record to 7-0 this season. This is the second time in three seasons the Hawks have finished unbeaten in the conference.
Huntingdon will open play in the NCAA Division III playoffs on Nov. 18. Playoff matchups will be released on Sunday. The Hawks will gather in Drum Theater to watch the Division III Selection Show at 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, senior running back Vic Jerald and junior kicker Chase Young accounted for all of the Hawks' points. Jerald ran for two touchdowns (1 and 5 yards) in the first quarter and hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Preston Samoden in the second quarter.
Young kicked all three extra points and added a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter and a 21-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Young's second field goal put the Hawks in front 27-3 with 10:53 to play in the game.
Records: Huntingdon (9-1, 7-0 USA South); LaGrange (4-6, 3-4 USA South)
Record Setter: Junior Otis Porter joined a select group of Huntingdon receivers with his first reception against LaGrange. With his third reception, he became a record holder.
Porter's first reception on Saturday went for 45 yards, making him just the third receiver in Huntingdon history to gain 1,000 yards in a season. On his third reception, Porter reached 1,080 yards for the season to break the Hawks' season record.
Porter finished the game with five receptions for 108 yards and has 47 receptions for 1,086 yards (23.1 yards per reception) and 10 touchdowns this season.
Cody Pearcy set the Hawks' previous record of 1,078 yards in 2010. Porter, Pearcy and Mark Colson (2006) are the only Hawks to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
"Otis works hard and he has earned everything he has accomplished," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "Setting that record is a pretty impressive accomplishment. We've been pretty good on offense for a lot of years, but we've only had two other receivers reach 1,000 yards in a season. That's pretty good company to be in."
Notable Performance: Senior running back Vic Jerald accounted for 184 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns against LaGrange. The Hawks' third all-time leading rusher, Jerald ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, caught one pass for a 13-yard touchdown and had one kickoff return for 21 yards.
This was Jerald's fourth 100-yard game of the season and the sixth of his career. Only former Hawks Trevor Manuel (14) and John Iwaniec (10) have had more career 100-yard games for the Hawks.
Quick Facts: Huntingdon enters the playoffs with a nine-game winning streak, tied for the longest in program history. This is the third time the Hawks have put together a nine-game winning streak and the second time in three seasons … With Saturday's win, Huntingdon pushed its conference record to 20-1 during the past three seasons. Since joining the USA South in 2013, the Hawks are 31-5 against conference opponents … This is the third straight season, and the fourth time in program history, that Huntingdon has reached the Division III playoffs … The win over LaGrange was the ninth in 12 meetings and the third straight
Passing: Preston Samoden: 10/12 for 134 yards, 1 TDs, 0 INTs
Receiving: Otis Porter: 5 receptions for 108 yards, 0 TD
Rushing: Vic Jerald: 26 rushes for 150 yards, 2 TD
Kicking: Chase Young: 3/3 PATs; 2/2 field goals (connected on field goals of 32 and 21 yards)
Interceptions: Jarrett White (1)
Head Coach Mike Turk on Saturday: "We came out with the right mentality today. With the conference championship and a playoff berth wrapped up, it would have been easy for us to come out looking ahead instead of living in the moment. But we didn't do that. Our guys were excited to be playing this game and we played well."
Turk on Huntingdon's running game against LaGrange: "I was proud of the way we executed in the running game. The guys up front did a good job opening holes. (H-Back) Colton Chinn was at the point of attack on almost every run and Vic Jerald, Dontavion Cunningham, Kobe Smith and Eric Thomas all did a good job running the ball. Vic, being a senior and knowing the kind of game we were in, really took over at some points of the game."
Division III Selection Show: Playoff matchups will be released on Sunday during the Division III Selection Show at 4:30 p.m. (Central). To watch the Selection Show, click here.