College Football Final – Huntingdon 69, Guilford 43

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Senior quarterback Michael Lambert passed for 336 yards and six touchdowns, three to Otis Porter, in Huntingdon College’s 69-43 football win over visiting Guilford College in both teams’ football season opener Saturday. The squads played under hot and sunny conditions on the Samford Stadium turf with temperatures nearing 100 degrees.

The Hawks’ Eric Thomas rushed for a game-high 134 yards and three scores, which helped Huntingdon control the ball for nearly 36 minutes. The hosts forced three Quakers’ turnovers that led to touchdowns and returned a blocked field goal 69 yards for a score.

Neither defense could get a stop for most of the first half as the game opened with five touchdowns in as many possessions. The Hawks’ Billy King picked off Guilford quarterback Alex Manley in the second quarter, which ended the consecutive scoring drives and led to Lambert’s second touchdown pass, a five-yard toss to Garrett Headley.

After the kickoff, Manley hit Jermaine Russell over the middle and Russell outran the defense for a 77-yard score that got the Quakers back to within 28-21. The touchdown triggered a 16-0 Guilford run that gave the guests a short-lived lead. Guilford’s Zach Hamilton forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, which teammate Josh Hayward recovered. Harrison Kiser’s 26-yard field goal brought the Quakers to within 28-24. After Guilford’s first defensive stop, Russell returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown that put Guilford in front for the first time, 30-28, 1:42 before halftime.

Huntingdon answered quickly as Lambert connected with Porter from 43 yards away on the Hawks’ next possession, which capped a three-play, 77-yard drive.

Lambert’s third touchdown pass of the half swung the lead back to Huntingdon, 35-30, and started a pivotal 34-0 run over a 12-and-a-half minute stretch.

Guilford received the second-half kickoff, but Huntingdon’s Casey Peppers recovered a Guilford fumble on the play. Lambert cashed in with a 13-yard strike to Porter that upped the Hawks’ edge to 42-30. The Quakers’ defense held on the ensuing possession as the Hawks’ missed a 36-yard field goal. On the next play, Peppers forced a Damien Reid fumble that Drew Schlemmer recovered at Guilford’s 23-yard line. One play later, Thomas carried up the middle and scored his third and final touchdown, which opened a 49-30 margin.

Leading 56-30, Huntingdon blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt. The Hawks’ Ke’Darius Thornton returned the ball 69 yards for a score that opened a 62-30 lead.

Lambert and Thomas helped the Hawks roll up 592 total offensive yards. Huntingdon sustained many drives by converting 14-of-20 third-down chances and both fourth-down opportunities.

Guilford’s Manley completed 16-of-28 passes for 289 yards and four scores, three to senior tight end Evan Carnes (5 rec., 46 yards). Russell made three catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a game-high 223 all-purpose yards and two scores. Damien Reid added 151 all-purpose yards and ran for a one-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. Converted tight end Khayree Lundy made a game-high 15 tackles in his first college game at linebacker. Ty Walker added 12 stops.

Coach Chris Rusiewicz’s team visits Methodist University Saturday (9/14) at 1:00 p.m.