Longhorns headed to state title game after 44-13 win

Hayden Huckabee breaks the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Abbeville Christian.

Hayden Huckabee breaks the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Abbeville Christian.

LINDEN — Marengo Academy coach Robby James celebrated his 64th birthday Friday by taking his Longhorns to a 44-13 win over Abbeville Christian that punches MA’s ticket to the AISA Class A title game.

“This is once in a lifetime. I’m excited for them to have a chance to do this,” James said of his team making the state title game. “I’ve been there many times and I know what it means to be there. I’m just excited about these guys getting the chance to go play in Troy.”

The Longhorns are set to face Restoration, the reigning state champion that beat MA in the semi-finals a season ago. That game is scheduled for a noon kickoff in Troy next Friday.

James has made 14 appearances in the state title round as a coach and has earned eight state championships.

Hayden Huckabee (18), Carson Huckabee (50) and William Tutt (bottom) bring down the Abbeville quarterback.

Hayden Huckabee (18), Carson Huckabee (50) and William Tutt (bottom) bring down the Abbeville quarterback.

 

The Longhorns (12-0) wasted little time jumping on top in Friday’s semi-final as Hayden Huckabee took the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

Only four minutes later, Shade Pritchett took a handoff from his tight end spot and scored on a 7-yard run to cap a 48-yard drive.

“I thought we came out playing hard. We were excited about where we are. It was a good effort all the way around. We made a few mistakes, but I thought we moved the ball well,” James said.

The teams then exchanged turnovers as Andrew Martin intercepted a pass for Marengo just one play before Jacob Kirkland dove on top of a fumble for Abbeville. The Generals made the most of the miscue when Drex Roach hooked up with Kyle Helms for a 28-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 13-6.

Hayden Hall hits the Abbeville quarterback and causes a fumble, which Hall would recover himself.

Hayden Hall hits the Abbeville quarterback and causes a fumble, which Hall would recover himself.

With 1:35 left in the opening quarter, Brant Lewis connected on a 37-yard field goal to stretch the Longhorn lead to 16-6.

Marengo added to the lead with 9:59 to go in the opening half when Huckabee bolted 50 yards for a score to push it to 23-6.

Hayden Hall ended the ensuing Abbeville possession with a sack that resulted in a fumble he would eventually recover. The Longhorns capitalized quickly as Huckabee went over the top to Pritchett on the next play for a 31-yard scoring pass. The Lewis PAT set the halftime margin at 30-6.

Despite great coverage by the official, Shade Pritchett hauls in a pass for a touchdown against Abbeville.

Despite great coverage by the official, Shade Pritchett hauls in a pass for a touchdown against Abbeville.

After Abbeville’s 10-play drive to open the third quarter stalled at the Longhorn 23, MA answered with a 77-yard march the culminated with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Barkley to Pritchett.

Marengo’s final touchdown came in the fourth when Josh Holifield scored on a 5-yard run to up the advantage to 44-6.

Abbeville (10-3) got its final score of the season with 1:11 to play when Kross Payne scooped up a blocked punt and ran it 30 yards for a score.

“My kids don’t quit. They haven’t quit all year. We’ve come back from some deficits,” Abbeville coach Ashley Carlisle said. “We just made too many mistakes to come back from this one. Hats off to Marengo. Marengo is a physical football team. They play a good brand of football. We just made too many turnovers to counter what they were doing.”

Josh Holified tries to break the tackle of an Abbeville defender.

Josh Holified tries to break the tackle of an Abbeville defender.

Huckabee led all rushers with 139 yards on 10 carries. Pritchett finished with 112 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Holifield finished with 89 yards on 17 carries.

Hall led the MA defense with 15 total tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 3.5 sacks. Carson Huckabee had 10 total stops. Thomas Etheridge had nine tackles. Pritchett had seven stops and an interception. Williams Tutt had seven tackles.