Special teams key in Marengo Academy victory over Pickens

Landon Houlditch catches a pass for another Longhorn TOUCHDOWN!

Landon Houlditch catches a pass for another Longhorn TOUCHDOWN!

LINDEN – Special teams proved to be the big difference in Marengo Academy’s 40-0 Homecoming victory over Pickens Academy Friday night.

Two of MA’s first half scores were set up by high Pickens punt snaps, and Hayden Huckabee added a spectacular 58-yard punt return as the Longhorns upped their record to 4-1 on year. The win kept Marengo perfect in Class AA, Region 1 play at 2-0.

Cason Cook #3 makes the tackle as #54 Tait Sanford comes in for backup if needed.

Cason Cook #3 makes the tackle as #54 Tait Sanford comes in for backup if needed.

“We won, but it was actually kind of a sloppy game,” said MA head coach Robby James. “We didn’t seem too focused, but Pickens had something to do with that. They’re scrappy and they played hard. Hopefully we learned some things tonight and can continue to get better.”

Pickens grabbed a quick first down on the game’s first series, before MA forced a punt. The snap sailed high, giving the Longhorns the ball at the Pirate 8. On third down, MA quarterback Tyler Barkley hit Landon Houlditch to the one-yard line, and on fourth down Barkley scored on the quarterback sneak. The kick sailed wide left, leaving Marengo up 6-0.

On the next series, a strong pass rush led by Longhorn defenders Thomas Etheridge and Cason Cook forced an errant throw, which Carson Huckabee picked off at the Pickens 30. Following a steady diet of Josh Holifield runs that pushed the ball to the 1, Barkley scored again on an sneak, and then hit Houlditch for the two-point conversion.

Kyle Friday kicks off after another Longhorn touchdown.

Kyle Friday kicks off after another Longhorn touchdown.

Early in the second period, a second high punt snap set the ‘Horns up at the PA 23, and on second down Huckabee scored on a 19-yard run. Then, with seven seconds left in the half, Huckabee provided the night’s most exciting moment when he broke numerous tackles along the home sideline and took a punt return 58 yards to the house. Kyle Friday’s kick sent MA to the locker room with a 27-0 lead.

Marengo added two second half scores – a 40-yard Huckabee run in the third and a one-yard Andrew Martin run in the final period.

Huckabee and Holifield each finished the night with 74 yards on nine and 11 carries, respectively.

Barkley was 2-of-6 passing for MA, for 30 yards.

On defense, Hayden Hall had 12 tackles, including a sack. Carson Huckabee had 11 with a sack and Cason Cook added seven stops with a sack.

The Longhorns travel to Russell Christian next Friday.