Longhorns trample South Choctaw in opener

LINDEN — Josh Holifield made the most of his running room Thursday night, amassing 123 yards and two scores on 20 carries as Marengo Academy (1-0) downed rival South Choctaw (1-1) in its season opener.

Brant Lewis (34) stops a South Choctaw Rebel behind the line of scrimmage in first quarter action.

Brant Lewis (34) stops a South Choctaw Rebel behind the line of scrimmage in first quarter action.

The Longhorns halted a promising Rebel march just 29 yards from paydirt on the game’s opening possession before answering with a nine-play, 71-yard drive. Holifield punctuated the possession with a seven-yard scoring run that saw he and teammate Hayden Huckabee do the heavy lifting in the series.

The Marengo special teams unit set up the next score when Shade Pritchett blocked a punt to give the Longhorns control 15 yards away from a double-digit lead.

Sebastian Hale capped the series with a six-yard touchdown run. Brant Lewis proved true on the extra point for a 14-0 lead.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Longhorns hit Huckabee for 38 yards on a dump off pass to set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Holifield. Lewis hit the point-after to send Marengo to the half with a 21-0 lead despite the MA offense running only 18 plays in the game’s first 24 minutes.

Hayden Hall (52) makes the last block to help spring Sebastian Hale (20) for a touchdown run.

Hayden Hall (52) makes the last block to help spring Sebastian Hale (20) for a touchdown run.

The Longhorns’ first hiccup of the contest came in the opening drive of the third quarter when MA used nine plays to chew up 41 yards only to see South Choctaw’s Chris Rutledge pounce on a fumble for the first SCA bright spot of the night.

After allowing SCA six yards on three plays, MA covered 80 yards in six snaps to extend the lead with a five-yard scoring run by Ralph Langley.

Three plays later, South Choctaw found the end zone when Justin Whitsett went over the top to find John Phillips for a 62-yard scoring pass. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving SCA down 28-6.

The Rebels’ final scoring opportunity came when Whitsett recovered a fumble at the MA 22. But SCA could make nothing of the opportunity, handing possession back to Marengo after gaining only three yards in four plays.

Josh Holified (22) breaks through the line with help from a block by Hayden Hall (52).

Josh Holified (22) breaks through the line with help from a block by Hayden Hall (52).

The Longhorns then proceeded to cover 81 yards in 14 plays, milking more than eight minutes off the clock before Tyler Barkley scored from a yard out on a quarterback keeper to leave the game at its final mark.

Barkley and Wyatt Hale split the snaps for the Longhorns. MA head coach Robby James was pleased with the effort of his quarterback tandem.

“We got to play a good many people and got to see two different quarterbacks,” James said. “Both guys conducted some drives there that scored.”

Huckabee finished his night with 99 yards on 15 hauls. Sebastian Hale had 69 yards on just seven runs.

“Our backs ran hard,” James said. Holifield, when he hits a hole, he really comes down through there. I like the way he runs.”

Hayden Hall had 12 total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble for Marengo Academy. Weldon Aydelott also recovered a fumble for the Longhorns. Marengo Academy is set to face Eastwood Christian Academy next Friday night.

Hayden Huckabee (18) drags a South Choctaw defender.

Hayden Huckabee (18) drags a South Choctaw defender.