ARKADELPHIA — No. 13 Henderson State will play in the game of the year thus far in the Great American Conference on Saturday afternoon when it travels to Southeastern Oklahoma State for a battle of unbeaten teams at 2 p.m. in Durant, Oklahoma.
TOP STORYLINES: SETTING THE SCENE
– The Reddies head to the Sooner State on the heels of a remarkable comeback win against Southern Arkansas. Henderson trailed 28-0 after one quarter but scored 35 in the second period and outlasted the Muleriders 56-49 to improve to 4-0. The 28-point rally was the largest in GAC history.
– HSU has enjoyed great success against Southeastern and has never lost to SOSU as a member of the GAC. The Reddies have won the last 10 meetings, including the last five in Durant. However, four of the last five matchups have been decided by a touchdown or less.
REDDIES REPORT: OFFENSE
– Henderson’s offense has gotten off to a tremendous start in 2021. The Reddies are No. 1 in the country in scoring offense (50 points per game) and have scored more touchdowns (27) than any program in all of NCAA DII. HSU is No. 2 nationally in total offense (528.2 yards per game) and has scored 55 or more points in each of the last three weeks.
– L’liott Curry continues to excel in the passing game for the Reddies. Curry is third in the country in receiving yards (513) and is one of just three players with 500 or more yards. With his 26-yard score on Saturday against SAU, Curry now has 20 touchdowns in his career at HSU, which ties him for second all-time alongside Robert Jordan.
– Adam Morse has staked his claim as one of the top quarterbacks not only in the GAC but in all of NCAA DII. Morse is Top-15 in the country in both passing yards (1174) and passing touchdowns (12) through four games. The senior has connected on touchdowns to six different players and is completing just under 66% of his passes.
– The Reddies’ rushing attack through the first four games of the season has been stellar. HSU has now rushed for 200 or more yards in four-straight games for the first time since 2004. The four-game rushing stretch is the best of Scott Maxfield‘s tenure at the school. Henderson is averaging 234.8 yards per game on the ground and 5.8 yards per carry.
– HSU’s offensive line has been a brick wall this year and has allowed a conference-low two sacks through the first four weeks. The Reddies’ 5.8 yards per carry on the ground ranks second in the league just behind Harding’s triple-option attack.
REDDIES REPORT: DEFENSE
– The Reddie defense rose up when Henderson needed it the most in its comeback victory over SAU. HSU forced two interceptions and a turnover on downs during the second-quarter rally to help swing momentum back to its offense. The defense also gave up just 21 points over the final 45 minutes of play.
– Defensive back Cameron Thomas came up big for the Reddies on Saturday. Thomas had the first two interceptions of his career at HSU in the second quarter and also led the team with nine tackles. He had the key pass breakup on 4th down which forced a Mulerider turnover on downs and set up a Henderson touchdown.
– Linebacker Jake Chatman made the biggest play of his career against the Muleriders late in the third quarter when he picked off a pass in the Henderson end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. Chatman’s amazing play tied an unbreakable school and national record for longest interception return and was the fourth pick of his career.
– HSU leads all of NCAA DII in interceptions after picking off three passes on Saturday night. The Reddies now have a national-best 10 interceptions on the year by eight different players. Thomas and Dedric O’Bryant are the co-leaders in the GAC with two apiece.
– Through four contests, Henderson ranks third in the GAC in scoring defense (21.8 points per game allowed) and sixth in the conference in total defense (376.5 yards per game allowed). HSU is third in the league with nine sacks this season.
– Jayden Ford continues to be a terror in opposing backfields and added two more tackles for loss in the win over SAU. Ford now has six total tackles for loss on the year and has recorded two tackles for loss in each of the last two games.
REDDIES REPORT: SPECIAL TEAMS
– Temo Martinez was named GAC Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday after going 8-for-8 on extra-point attempts against SAU. Martinez is the leading special teams scorer in the conference with 34 points this year. He is 22-of-23 on extra points and 4-for-5 on field goal attempts this season.
– Henderson came up with its biggest special teams play of the season late in the first half against SAU when it recovered a pooched kickoff by Martinez. The recovery by Landon Cook set up the Reddies’ go-ahead touchdown and capped off a 35-0.
SCOUTING SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA
– It has been a dream start to the 2021 season for Southeastern Oklahoma State, who welcomes Henderson to town on Saturday with a 4-0 record. The Savage Storm, who has been by far the most successful Oklahoma-based GAC program since the league’s inception in 2011, was picked 11th in the Preseason Coaches Poll. SOSU was 1-10 back in 2019 after injuries decimated their roster but had five-straight winning seasons from 2014-2018.
– Southeastern’s biggest win this season came two weeks ago when the Storm knocked off Harding 33-32 at home in Durant. SOSU scored late and converted on a two-point conversion to win the game. Harding is the only team the Savage Storm has faced this season that has won a game. Southeastern’s other three opponents, Arkansas Tech, SNU and SWOSU, are a combined 0-12 after four weeks.
– The Savage Storm rank fourth in the GAC in both scoring offense (34.5 points per game) and scoring defense (22.3 points per game allowed). SOSU is also fourth in total offense (420 yards per game) and fifth in total defense (370.8 yards per game allowed).
– SOSU is led offensively by its passing attack, which ranks sixth in the GAC with 255.8 yards per game through the air. Storm quarterback Daulton Hatley has thrown for 984 yards, eight touchdowns and had just two passes intercepted this year. His top target has been Braxton Kincade, who has caught 17 passes for 211 yards and four scores.
– On the ground, Southeastern’s top back is CJ Shavers, who has carried 44 times for 283 yards and one touchdown this season. Shavers averages 6.4 yards per carry, which is fourth-best among all ball-carriers in the GAC.
– Defensively, Maalik Hall leads the Savage Storm with seven tackles for loss on the year, including two sacks. Hall was GAC Defensive Player of the Week after SOSU’s win over Arkansas Tech, where he had three tackles for loss and a sack.
THE COACHING MATCHUP
– Henderson State is led by head coach Scott Maxfield, who is 112-57 in his 16 seasons at the school. Maxfield is seven wins away from tying HSU legend Sporty Carpenter for the most wins in program history (119). In his career with the Reddies, Maxfield is 10-1 against Southeastern Oklahoma State and has held SOSU to 27 points or less in nine of those games.
– Southeastern Oklahoma State’s head coach is Tyler Fenwick, who is in his second season with the Savage Storm after taking over the program in 2019. Fenwick is 5-10 overall in Durant, Oklahoma, but has quickly turned things around this season. SOSU was 1-10 during the 2019 season after injuries derailed its depth chart early on. Fenwick was previously the head coach at Missouri S&T, where he was 37-29 overall and 10-2 in 2018.
THE LAST MEETING
– Henderson State forced four second-half turnovers on and ground out a 41-27 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State to improve to 7-1 on the year. The win was the Reddies’ 10th-straight over the Savage Storm and helped HSU match its best start since 2015.
– No. 23 Henderson led 20-17 at the break after two big scoring plays from SOSU helped the Savage Storm keep things tight through 30 minutes, but the Reddies out-scored Southeastern Oklahoma 14-3 in the third quarter to gradually pull away.
– Richard Stammetti finished 24-of-34 for 234 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the day, while Curry turned in nine catches for 71 yards and two scores. Logan Moragne and Querale Hall combined for 34 carries and 155 yards rushing. Mercardo Anderson finished with two picks, a pick-six, a half-tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.
WHERE TO LISTEN
– The game will be broadcast and available by the Henderson State Sports Network on KDEL 100.9 FM and KVRC 1240 AM in Arkadelphia, KWPS 99.7 FM in Hot Springs, KYXK 106.7 FM in Gurdon, and KZYP 104.1 FM/1310 AM in Malvern. Coverage begins one hour prior to kickoff. The radio broadcast can also be heard on the web by going to the audio link for the game at hsusports.com.–