Airline High took advantage of several Haughton miscues to hand the Bucs a 38-14 loss in a key district matchup Friday night.
The Vikings (6-1, 2-0) were also clicking on offense throughout the game.
Hayden Hildebrand was nearly flawless, completing 18 of 22 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Nunnery rushed for 91 yards and had 72 yards receiving.
Recovers Chris Stinnett and Laterious Pouncy also had big nights.
“We played our best game of the year against a great team,” Airline coach Bo Meeks said.
Haughton dropped to 5-2 and 0-2, but head coach Rodney Guin isn’t down on his team.
“We’re playing well overall but a couple of plays each game really hurt us,” Guin said. “We’ll be OK.”
Airline caught Haughton off-guard on the opening kickoff, kicking shallow to avoid giving Haughton’s Craft brothers an opportunity for a runback. The short kick was muffed for an early turnover that put the Vikings in business at the Buc 29. Four plays later, Hildebrand faked to Nunnery and ran nine yards off right tackle for a 7-0 lead at the 10:06 mark in the first quarter.
“We put ourselves in the hole early on with the fumble and touchdown,” Guin said.
Haughton responded with a nine-play drive covering 60 yards, with Jarred Craft scoring at 5:57 to knot the score at 7. Craft led Haughton with 82 yards rushing.
Airline came right back, scoring on a fourth-and-2 with Hildebrand passing to Chase Rivers for a 14-7 lead with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter.
The teams spent much of the second quarter exchanging turnovers, with three straight drives —often deep in scoring position — ending with a fumble or interception. Hildebrand hit Nunnery in stride for a touchdown that put Airline up 21-7 with 3:32 remaining in the first half.
Haughton then drove all the way to the Viking 27, when a touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty. The drive ended with a missed 42-yard field goal attempt to end the half at 21-7.
Airline got the ball to start the second half and capped a long drive with a two-yard TD run by Nunnery with 8:49 remaining in the third quarter to go up 28-7.
Haughton came right back with a pass from James David Almond to Jerrod Craft at the 5:47 mark to cut the score to 28-14, but by the end of the third period Airline had tacked on a 23-yard Matt Hanisee field goal for a 31-14 lead.
Any chance of a late Haughton comeback was quashed by Airline’s defense in the fourth quarter. Two consecutive Haughton drives were stopped on fourth-down plays when the Bucs had little choice because time was running out.
Nunnery scored on a 29-yard run with 2:18 remaining to end the scoring.
The Vikings have little time to relish the win with undefeated Parkway looming this Friday.
“It’s going to be a war,” Meeks said.