MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Huntingdon football team scored 34 straight points in a 13-minute span to pull away from Guilford College in a 69-43 win on Saturday.
Trailing 30-28 less than two minutes before halftime, Huntingdon scored one touchdown to regain the lead and close the first half and opened the third quarter with four touchdowns to put the game away.
Touchdown passes from Michael Lambert to Otis Porter closed the first half scoring and opened the second half scoring. Eric Thomas' third touchdown run of the game and a touchdown pass from Lambert to Cody Dwyer all but put the game away.
By the time Ke'Darius Thornton blocked a Guilford field goal attempt and returned the loose ball 69 yards for a touchdown with 3:18 to play in the third quarter, Huntingdon led 62-30.
Records: Huntingdon (1-0); Guilford (0-1)
The Turning Point: After Lambert and Porter connected on a 43-yard touchdown play in the final minute of the first half, the Huntingdon coaching staff challenged the Hawks to continue to respond in the second half.
"We were ahead by 14 points in the second quarter before they took a 30-28 lead in the final two minutes of the half," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "That was a critical point in the game, but we responded. Our offense went back out and executed a two-minute drive about as well as we could have hoped for. We ended the drive with a touchdown to Otis just before the half and carried the lead into halftime.
"That was huge. To be in control of the game like we were and then find ourselves behind right before the half, it was very deflating. But our guys responded the right way, marched down the field and took the lead back. That carried over into the second half and we really took control from there."
Huntingdon forced a turnover on the opening kickoff of the second half, setting up a 13-yard touchdown pass from Lambert to Porter. A short time later, the Hawks created another turnover with linebacker Casey Peppers forcing a fumble and linebacker Drew Schlemmer recovering it. The Hawks scored in one play with Thomas scoring on a 23-yard run.
The Hawks scored in three plays on their next possession, with Lambert's 46-yard touchdown pass to Dwyer capping the drive with 5:56 to play in the third quarter.
Thornton's blocked field goal for a touchdown capped the quarter for Huntingdon. Thornton is the seventh Hawk to return a blocked kick for a touchdown in program history and the first since 2015.
Notable Performance: Quarterback Michael Lambert, receiver Otis Porter and running back Eric Thomas led the offensive performance. Lambert passed for 336 yards and six touchdowns, Porter had three receptions for 65 yards and three touchdowns and Thomas rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
With their performances, Lambert and Porter each tied Huntingdon single-game records. Lambert's six touchdown passes tied the Huntingdon single-game mark, set by Zach Golson in 2005 and tied by Neal Posey in 2010 and 2011. Porter's three touchdown receptions marked the second time he has tied the program's single-game record.
Career Watch: With Porter's three touchdown receptions, he moved into a tie at the top of the Hawks' career list with 25 touchdown receptions. He is fourth in Huntingdon history with 2,284 career receiving yards and fifth with 106 career receptions.
High Scoring: Huntingdon's 69 points on Saturday are the third most ever scored by the Hawks. Huntingdon scored 76 in a win over Principia in 2008 and scored 71 in a win over Greensboro in 2016.
Passing: Michael Lambert: 18/29 for 336 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INT
Receiving: Bailey Densel: 4 receptions for 96 yards, 1 TDs
Cody Dwyer: 3 receptions for 88 yards, 1 TD
Otis Porter: 3 receptions for 65 yards, 3 TDs
Garrett Headley: 5-yard touchdown reception
Rushing: Eric Thomas: 25 rushes for 134 yards, 3 TDs
Kobe Smith: 11 rushes for 67 yards
Kicking: Cole Starr: 9/10 PAT; 0/1 field goals
Interceptions: Billy King (1)
Passes Broken Up: Fred Flavors (2)
Forced Fumbles: Casey Peppers (1)
Blocked Kicks: Ke'Darius Thornton (1) – returned 69 yards for a TD
Head Coach Mike Turk on Saturday's season opener: "We survived today. That would be the best way to describe it. It was really tough. This was one of the hottest games I've ever been a part of. But I think our guys handled it pretty well and that was a difference in the game.
"It was a close game at halftime but we were able to pull away in the third quarter and put the game away. We played better defensively in the second half and we kept plugging offensively and pulled away. We saw plenty today that we need to address and work on moving forward. We'll get started on that right away, but right now, I'm proud of the way we continued to fight today."
Turk on the challenge moving forward: "When you win, sometimes it covers up some imperfections and mistakes. When we watch this film, the challenge is for the guys to realize there were enough good things there for us to win a lot of games, but there were also enough bad things for us to lose a lot of games.
"What matters is where we go from here. Will we improve and eliminate the bad things? If we do, then we have a chance to be a pretty good team. If we don't, it's going to catch up with us at some point."
Coming Up: Huntingdon plays at Birmingham-Southern on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m.