By Russ Green-Sports Editor
Northwest quarterback Cortlen Austin threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more as Hughesville stunned Hardin-Central 54-24 and put a damper on the Bulldog Homecoming festivities.
Austin ended the night completing 10 of his 18 passes for 148 yards while four different receivers had receptions to help hand Hardin-Central its third straight loss after opening with three victories. The Mustangs, who were coming off a 90-48 loss to Southwest the week before, scored 28 unanswered points after the Dawgs had rallied to tie the game at 20-all.
Sean Utley put the Dawgs on top to cap their second possession of the night. The sophomore quarterback, who ran for 51 yards on 10 carries, crashed over from the one yard line with 5:48 left in the first period and then ran the conversion to get the home team on top. The Mustangs answered later with two quick touchdowns within 30 seconds. After Austin hooked up with Quincy Wicker for a 15-yard scoring strike, the Northwest defense followed with a seven-yard fumble return for a touchdown on the ensuing Hardin-Central possession.
The Northwest lead then reach 20-8 early in the second period with Austin finding Wicker again for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Hardin-Central answered with a three-yard run by Marcus Pearon and a one-yard run by Rhyler Estenbaum to tie the game 20-20 with 2:00 remaining before intermission, but once again the Mustangs put two quick scores on the board to regain command.
After Estenbaum’s run, Austin completed an 8-yard strike to Andrew Underwood and followed with a 30-yard scoring pass to Ryan Rafferty. Rafferty’s reception came on the final snap of the half and just two plays after Wicker’s interception on the Mustang 36-yard line.