BELTON, Texas. – The Huntingdon football team ended its season with a 42-6 loss to top-ranked and defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The loss ends a season that saw the Hawks bounce back from a 1-2 start and finish with an 8-4 record. Huntingdon won its fourth USA South Athletic Conference title in five seasons, advanced to the Division III playoffs for the fifth time in program history and reached the second round of the playoffs for the second time. This was Huntingdon's first appearance in the second round since falling to Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2015.
This was the Crusaders' 16th consecutive appearance in the second round. Mary Hardin-Baylor (12-0), which has made three straight appearances in the national championship game, advances to the quarterfinals with a 27-game winning streak.
"We knew what we were up against. We knew Mary Hardin-Baylor is as fine a football program as there is in the country," Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk said. "I don't think they needed as much help as we gave them in the first half with turnovers. That was disappointing and obviously put us behind quickly. But I'm proud of the way our guys played and finished the game. We continued to play hard.
"I'm disappointed in the result, but I'm proud of the boys."
The Hawks turned the ball over four times in the first half, including three straight possessions in the first quarter. Huntingdon only trailed 10-0 at the start of the second quarter, but Mary Hardin-Baylor answered with 245 yards passing and three touchdowns in the second quarter to carry a 31-0 lead into halftime.
"We knew coming into the game that they were the top team in the country and that we were going to have to have a perfect game to even have a chance against these guys," Huntingdon junior running back Eric Thomas said. "So, having the turnovers in the first half put us behind. That was frustrating but we went into halftime with the mindset that we were going to stick together. That's the mindset we have had all year. We stick together, fight until the end and trust each other."
Thomas scored Huntingdon's touchdown on a 2-yard run with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
Release courtesy of the Huntingdon sports information department.