For the second week in a row on the road, the Heroes allowed the opening kickoff to be returned for a touchdown as Reading's Trent Jones ran it back 52 yards for a score. A missed extra-point did not diminish the score, getting the Express crowd of over 3,400 back on their feet before they had hardly sat down. But just like last week, the Heroes defense came up with a big play when corner DeLeon Rayner took a catch away from Reading's Shawn Foxworth and returned that in terception for a tying touchdown with 7:07 to go in the first quarter. Jason Cherry's extra-point put the Heroes up, 7-6.
Just like last week, Huntington came up with a stand inside the five-yard line and denied Reading points when they missed a chip-shot field goal. Darnell Kennedy moved the Heroes up the field and found Tario Frederick for a score, his third touchdown catch in two weeks, with 1:55 to play in the first quarter and Huntington was up, 14-6. The lead was extended to 21-7 when Jermaine Blakeley scored his first Heroes TD, subbing for the injured (arch) Wilmont Perry at running back, at the 12:10 mark of the second quarter.
Back came Reading behind QB Rob Flowers, who moved in for a touchdown with a six-yard run and the Express pulled to 21-13 with just over nine minutes left in the half. But Huntington would have Kennedy answer with a three-yard run for a score, and the Heroes led 28-16 at halftime after Erik Rockhold of the Express added three on a 28-yard field goal near the end of the second quarter.
But if the first half was the best of times, the second half was the worst of times for the Heroes. Kennedy would throw three second-half interceptions, J. Blakeley had to leave the game and not return at fullback when his knee was injured on a cut-block and linebacker Byron Cobb dislocated his knee, forcing Heroes coach Teddy Keaton to get creative. He was already down a player when Chris Chisholm was ejected along with Reading DB Ronnie Montgomery for a fight that broke out after Huntington's kickoff after taking a 21-6 first half lead.
With 9:35 left in the third quarter, Flowers broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run in which all eight defenders missed on tackle chances. Reading added a six-yard touchdown and a 39-yard touchdown pass from Flower to Foxworth, a receiver who played at Millersburh, and reclaimed the lead for good, 36-28. A Cherry field goal was the only scoring in a 35-3 run by Reading to bury the Heroes. Both teams scored late to set the final at 57-38, despite the edge the Heroes had statistically.
Huntington led in total yardage, 48 plays for 233 yards for Huntington to 38 plays for 207 for Reading, first downs (16-14) and time of possession (33:17 to 26:43) but the Heroes were out-scored by 41-10 in the second half. Kennedy was 19-of-37 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but threw three picks including a 49-yard interception for touchdown by Jones. Kennedy was 10-of-21 in the second half for 128 yards but threw three interceptions. Flowers led all rushers with 81 yards and three scores, while the Reading QB also was hitting on15-of-25 passing for 126 yards, two scores and overcame the two first half picks.
Huntington will host Erie, who had the weekend off after losing to Reading on the previous Monday at home, at the Big Sandy Superstores Arena Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. The game will be "Faith and Family Night," and can be heard on ESPN 930-AM in Huntington, with a pod cast of the game available at wrvc.am after every Heroes game on 930-AM.
Score: Huntington-38 Reading-57
First Downs: Huntington-16 Reading-14
Rushes/Net Yards: Huntington-9/23 Reading-12/83
Passing: Huntington-201 yards, 37-19-3, two touchdowns Reading-124 yards, 25-15-2, two touchdowns
Kickoff returns: Huntington-2/19 Reading-6/162, one touchdown (52)
Interceptions: Huntington-2/23, one touchdown (23) Reading-3/66, one touchdown (49)
Penalties: Huntington-10/-53 Reading 3/-16
Time of possession: Huntington-33:17 Reading-26:43
Third downs conversions: Huntington-1/7 Reading-2/6
Red-zone conversions: Huntington-5/6 Reading-4/5
Rush: Huntington-Jermaine Blakeley 7/24, TD, 3.4 ypc; Darnell Kennedy 1/3, TD, 3.0; Reading-Rob Flowers 11/81, 3 TD, 7.4; Jason Henley 1/2, TD, 2.0.
Passing: Huntington-Kennedy 37-19-3, 226 yards, 2 TD; Reading-Flowers 25-15-2, 126 yards, 2 TD.
Receiving: Huntington-Marcus Bryant 7/83, TD; Tario Frederick 6/79, TD; Jay Jackson 6/64; Reading-Shawn Foxworth 8/74, 2 TD; Jeff Willis 4/23; Tavis Laws 2/25; Terrance Hudton 1/4.
Interceptions: Huntington-Larry Thompson 1/0; DeLeon Raynor 1/23, TD; Reading-Michael Bryant 1/17; Trent Jones 1/49, TD.
Kick returns: Huntington-Jay Jackson 2/19; Reading-Jones 4/143, TD (52); Henley 1/0.
0-6 Reading Trent Jones 52-yard kickoff return (kick failed) 1st/14:55
7-6 Huntington DeLeon Raynor 23-yard interception return (Jason Cherry kick), 1st/7:07
14-6 Huntington Tario Frederick 15-yard pass from Darnell Kennedy (Cherry kick), 1st/1:55
21-6 Huntington Jermaine Blakeley one-yard run (Cherry kick), 2nd/12:10
21-13 Reading Rob Flowers six-yard run (Erik Rockhold kick), 2nd/9:30
28-13 Kennedy three-yard run (Cherry kick), 2nd/7:05
28-16 Reading Rockhold 28-yard field goal, 2nd/:46
28-23 Reading Flowers 35-yard run (Rockhold kick), 3rd/9:35
28-29 Reading Shawn Foxworth six-yard pass from Flower (kick block-J. Blakeley), 3rd/5:30
28-36 Reading Foxworth 39-yard pass from Flowers (Rockhold kick), 3rd/3:30
31-36 Huntington Cherry 21-yard field goal, 4th/13:30
31-43 Reading Jason Henley two-yard run (Rockhold kick), 4th/10:35
31-50 Reading Jones 49-yard interception return (Rockhold kick), 4th/5:08
21-51 Reading Rockhold rouge, 4th/4:32
38-51 Huntington Marcus Bryant 1-yard pass from Kennedy (Cherry kick), 4th/1:10
38-57 Reading Flowers two-yard run (no kick), 4th/0:00