Henderson State overcame a 17-point first quarter deficit to knockoff previously unbeaten No. 19 Southeastern Oklahoma 21-20, Saturday in Durant, Okla.
The Reddies, 4-3 on the season, extended its NCAA Division II record road winning streak to 30 games including winning 16 straight in Oklahoma.
Road warriors. pic.twitter.com/1VPnfoIbC9
— HSU Reddie Football (@ReddieFB) October 14, 2017
Southeastern Oklahoma, 6-1 on the year, benefitted from two early turnovers and converted the Reddie miscues into 10 points.
The first SOSU score came following a Blake Faulk fumble that was recovered by Troy Parker at midfield. Six plays later, Rashod Polk gave the Savage Storm a 7-0 lead with a 2-yard dive.
On Henderson’s next possession, Evan Lassiter was picked off by Justin Young at the HSU 42. The Savage Storm settled for a 36-yard field goal by Joel Carlos to make the score 10-0 midway through the first quarter.
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Southeastern extended the lead to 17-0 late in the first quarter as the Savage Storm drove 81 yards on 8 plays with Polk scoring from a yard out.
“I was worried falling behind 17-0 early, but our kids fought back and came together,” said head coach Scott Maxfield. “I felt we played our best game all year. We played as a complete unit today and it showed what we are capable of when we work together.”
Henderson got on the board in the second quarter on a Julio Cervantes 21-yard field goal. The big play of the drive occurred on 4th-and-7 from the SOSU 30 as Lassiter completed a 17-yard strike to Fernando Van Hook.
Trailing 17-3 to begin the second-half, Henderson cut the deficit to 17-6 as Cervantes booted a 22-yard field goal on the Reddies’ opening possession. The score was set up by a pair of passes from Lassiter to Austin Bennett for 36 yards and 17 yards, and another completion of 23 yards to Ben Johnson.
Southeastern Oklahoma took the ensuing kickoff and drove down to the Reddie 28, but Henderson’s defense held to force a 45-yard field goal attempt. Carlos’ try missed wide left and Henderson took over at its own 28.
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Lassiter then orchestrated a 9-play, 72-yard drive that was completed with an 11-yard scoring toss to Bennett. A pair of 18-yard pass plays to Darion Gray and Johnson played a major role in Henderson’s score.
The Reddies then converted the two-point conversion with Lassiter hooking up with Gray to make the score 17-14 with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter.
The Henderson defense would then force a three-and-out with the Reddies getting the ball on the SOSU 42 to begin the eventual game-winning score.
Following a 14-yard reception by Faulk to the SOSU 1, the freshman running back gave Henderson the lead on the next play to make the score 21-17 with 14:01 to play in the game.
— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) October 5, 2017
SOSU cut the deficit to 21-20 on the Storm’s next possession with a 36-yard field goal with 10:28 remaining to play.
From there, Henderson’s defense took over as SOSU got the ball just once and was again forced to a three-and-out.
Henderson’s offense took over with 7:21 remaining getting the ball on its own 25. The Reddies converted on a 3rd-and-19 on a 33-yard pass from Lassiter to Van Hook, and later was successful on a 4th-and-4 as Faulk obtained the line to gain with a four-yard pick up.
The Henderson offense chewed up the rest of the clock driving down to the SOSU 6 as time expired.
Lassiter recorded his second 300-yard plus game of the year completing 28-of-42 passes for 316 yards with a touchdown.
Bennett had a career-high 127 yards on 8 receptions, while Gray totaled 63 yards on 9 catches. Van Hook added 61 yards on 4 grabs, with Johnson catching four passes for 55 yards.
Faulk led the Reddie ground game with 38 yards on nine attempts.
Henderson’s defense limited one of the top offenses in the GAC to a season low 277 yards including just 100 yards in the second-half.
Henry Davis led the Reddies with a team-best eight tackles including a sack. Byron Miller, Cameron Sonnier and Sheldon Watson each added six defensive stops.
The Reddies return home Saturday, October 21 to face East Central with kickoff for the annual Homecoming event set for 2 p.m.