There is an old saying that sometimes it’s a game of inches and that saying came into play Thursday night as the Huntingdon Middle School Mustangs defeated Decatur County 20-8 to finish undefeated for the season at 8-0. With just over 1:43 left in the game and the Mustangs clinging to a 12-8 lead the Panthers were faced with a 4th and six from the Mustang 29. The Panthers attempted a shovel pass to Jaggar Cupples who was tackled right at the first down marker. The chains were brought out to measure for the first down and the Panthers came up about two inches short of the first down. On the next play Tayshawn Rivers got outside the containment and broke several tackles down the sideline and scored on a 77-yard run sealing the win for the Mustangs.
Decatur County had taken over at the Mustang 33 prior to Rivers touchdown run after the Mustangs held the Panthers and forced a punt and the punt was downed at the Mustang one-inch line. The Mustangs in three plays pushed the ball out to the four-yard line but had to punt from their own end zone with the 12-8 lead and Gray Eubanks punt landed at the Mustangs 33 setting up the heroic stand by the Mustang defense.
The Mustang defense played well all night against a bigger Panther squad and held the Panthers on the first drive of the game as the Panthers took the opening kickoff and reeled off eight plays before the Mustangs held on downs at their own 27. The Mustangs then went ten plays but ran out of downs at the Panther five-yard line. The Mustangs held and forced a punt from the Panthers that was downed at the Panther 45. Rivers who had his best game of the year sprinted the 45 yards for the touchdown with 3:26 left in the half. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the Mustangs took the 6-0 lead into the half.
The Panthers took their first lead of the game after blocking a Mustang punt early in the third quarter. The block came as the Panthers recovered the blocked kick at the Mustang 31 and the Panthers took three plays to score. Cupples scored on a 14-yard run and Bo Brantley caught a pass for the two-point conversion to give the Panthers an 8-6 lead.
The Mustang answered back on its next possession as they took over at their own 34 and Rivers got the call on three straight plays. He ran for 17 on first down and then picked up two yards before sprinting the final 47 yards for the touchdown with 2:51 left in the third quarter. The conversion failed again but the Mustangs led 12-8 and the final quarter provided the drama of keeping an undefeated season alive.
Rivers led a Mustang offensive attack that rushed for 246 yards for the game. Rivers who was held to 70 yards in the first half turned it up in the second half and rushed for 156 yards in the second half for a total of 226 for the game on 15 carries and scored all three touchdowns. Rivers also completed 2-2 passing for 29 yards. The Mustang defense held Decatur County to 122 yards rushing for the game and 3-9 passing and 14 yards.