The Crimson Tide came out on Friday night in front of a packed crowd for homecoming fired up and ready to win their first contest of the season.
But it was a heartbreaking loss for the Tide. Minden trailed by just three points with a little more than a minute to play, but Huntington scored twice before the end to make the final, 42-25.
Huntington scored twice in the first quarter, with Damien Jiggets (194 yards in teh game) toting the load on the first drive of the game, scoring on 17 yard scamper. Quarterback Aldon Kelly then exploited the Tide secondary on two passes to Chris Chambers, one which drew an interference call after he got behind the Tide defensive back, and a 31 yard completion on the same side of the field.
The Tide offense looked much improved on the night, as Francis completed six passes of eight attempts in the first quarter, spreading it to four receivers, two to Jacob Johnson, two to Elgin Moore, and one each to Mikey James and Dominique Walker.
This improvement would become even more evident with the first Tide possession of the second quarter. Starting at their own 32, Minden relied on the pass to move the ball downfield. Francis completed passes to Moore, James, and Marshal Frye to move into Raider territory. He then added another completion to James and then Walker rushed for ten yards for a first down from the ten yard line. The drive ended in a six yard touchdown pass to James, and Josh Gosa added the extra point to make it a 14-7 Huntington lead.
Huntington would score again right before half, with Kelly throwing back to Chambers again for 20 yards, then to Dardy for the 21 yard score. They added the two point conversion to give the Raiders a 15 point halftime lead.
Minden looked inspired on the first drive of the second half, with Francis completing eight passes in a row to move the Tide to within one score. He spread the wealth around again, hitting James and Walker three times each and Moore twice, once being the touchdown toss from 11 yards out. The point after try failed, leaving the score 22-13.
The Tide tackling started to suffer around this point, and after an interception by the Raiders at the Minden 35, it took only two plays for Huntington to score, with Jiggets breaking several tackles on his way to the 40 yard touchdown run.
Elgin Moore came through for the defense on the next Raider drive, intercepting a pass meant for Chambers at the 50 yard line and returned it to the two. The Tide wasted no time getting another score, as Walker ran it in on the first play from scrimmage. Again, the point after failed, leaving the Tide down 28-19 with one quarter left to play.
On the very next Huntington drive, Moore got his second interception of the game, and this time, he wouldn't be denied the touchdown, returning it all the way in from the 45 to give the Tide faithful reason to believe that an upset was on the way. However, the two point conversion again failed, leaving the Tide down by three with almost ten minutes remaining.
After holding the Raiders on downs, the Minden offense took over and mounted a nice 14 play drive, which ended on downs after four straight incompletions, leaving Huntington only 2:49 to run out on the clock. They wouldn't have to settle for just running the clock out however, as Jiggets broke free for 65 yards, and he eventually punched it into the end zone from three yards out.
Huntington added one more score on the last offensive play of the game, with Franklin intercepting a pass at the Raider one yard line and returning it 99 yards to make the final score 42-25.
Francis ended the game with 24 completions on 46 attempts with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Moore had nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. James added seven catches, 88 yards, and a touchdown. Walker added four receptions, with Frye and Johnson adding two grabs each. Walker had seven yards rushing, with a touchdown on the ground.
The defense was led by Hutton Leppert, Kyler James, Carson Bolyer, and Moore.