ARKADELPHIA — No. 9 Henderson State puts its first place position and new Top-10 national ranking on the line Saturday when it welcomes East Central to Carpenter-Haygood Stadium at 2 p.m. The Reddies are looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2014.
TOP STORYLINES: SETTING THE SCENE
– East Central has been one of the surprises of the year in the GAC and has won four-straight games to enter Saturday’s contest 4-1 overall and in a tie for second in the league. ECU rolled over Southern Arkansas last week in Ada, Oklahoma, 38-17 and has already surpassed its win total (3) from the 2019 season.
– Saturday is the 32nd meeting all-time between Henderson and East Central. HSU holds an 18-12-1 advantage and is 7-2 against the Tigers since the formation of the GAC in 2011. ECU’s two wins over the Reddies both came in Arkadelphia in 2015 and 2017.
REDDIES REPORT: OFFENSE
– The Reddies, who were No. 1 in NCAA DII in scoring offense last week, slipped back to No. 3 nationally (45.4 points per game) after being held to 27 points in their win over previously unbeaten Southeastern Oklahoma State. HSU held the ball for over 32 minutes in the victory and ran for 161 yards.
– As a unit, the Henderson offense has been incredibly balanced. HSU ranks third in the GAC in both passing yards (1369) and rushing yards (1100). The Reddies have scored 15 rushing touchdowns and 14 passing touchdowns. Henderson is 20th nationally in rushing yards per game (220) and one of just 25 teams averaging 200-plus yards per contest.
– Henderson was held to a season-low 356 yards of offense in Durant, but still ranks sixth in the country in total offense (493.8 yards per game). The Reddies had two touchdown drives of 70-plus yards and had another scoring drive in the third quarter that was 18-plays long and took 10 minutes off of the game clock.
– Adam Morse continued his stellar play at SOSU and finished an efficient 22-of-27 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Morse has thrown for 1369 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. His completion percentage of 68.8% is third-best in the country among quarterbacks who have thrown 150 passes or more.
– Both tight ends had big days for the Reddies in the win over Southeastern. Ayden Shurley was HSU’s leading receiver with 67 yards on four catches, while Mike Benning got into the end zone for the second-straight week with a 25-yard touchdown grab.
REDDIES REPORT: DEFENSE
– The Reddies had a strong showing in the win over Southeastern Oklahoma State and held the Savage Storm to just 310 yards of total offense. SOSU was limited to a season-low 91 yards on 28 rushes and was just 3-for-9 on third down.
– Henderson’s defensive front tied a season-high with three sacks against the Savage Storm. Two of those sacks came at critical moments in the fourth quarter, as Jayden Ford had a red zone sack on third down to hold SOSU to a field goal, and Shaq’ke Robinson had a third down sack to force a late Southeastern punt.
– Lineman Peyton-Usher Pearson had a disruptive day in Durant and finished with four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack from his nose guard position. Usher-Pearson has 3.5 tackles for loss this season for HSU.
– Defensive back Deldric Shields got his first start of the year on Saturday and turned in a terrific performance. The Angelo State transfer had a team-high 11 tackles, as well as an interception and a pass breakup to earn GAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
– As a unit, the Reddies rank third in the GAC in scoring defense (22.2 points per game allowed) and fourth in total defense (363.2 yards per game allowed). HSU continues to lead all of NCAA DII in interceptions with 11 this year.
– Henderson is No. 1 in the conference and 17th nationally in turnover margin (+6). The Reddies have forced a GAC-best 13 turnovers which ranks ninth overall in the country.
REDDIES REPORT: SPECIAL TEAMS
– Reigning GAC Special Teams Player of the Week Temo Martinez came through in a big way for the Reddies on the road in Durant. Martinez was 3-for-3 on extra points and connected on clutch field goals of 33 and 36 yards in the fourth quarter.
– Martinez was not the only player who made a big impact on special teams in the win at Southeastern. Freshman linebacker Trenton Moore made a huge play in the first quarter when he blocked a Savage Storm punt at the shadow of the SOSU goal line. The blocked punt was the first for Henderson since the 2016 season and set up the Reddies’ first score.
– Tristan Heaton punted just twice on Saturday for an average of 38 yards per kick. His longest punt went 42 yards and he had one punt downed inside the 20-yard line.
SCOUTING EAST CENTRAL
– It has been a terrific start to the season for East Central, who is 4-1 entering Saturday’s contest and has already surpassed its win total from the 2019 season (3). The Tigers have won four-straight games and dispatched of Southern Arkansas 38-17 last week in Ada, Oklahoma. ECU gashed the Muleriders for 235 rushing yards on 36 carries.
– The Tigers’ defense has been stingy in 2021 and ranks second in the conference in both scoring defense (17 points per game allowed) and total defense (311.2 yards per game allowed). ECU has surrendered just three passing touchdowns this year and has held four of its first five opponents to under 200 yards passing.
– Offensively, East Central is 10th in the GAC in both scoring offense (22.2 points per game) and total offense (352.6 yards per game). The Tigers are fourth in rushing yards per game (170.2 yards) and are averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
– ECU’s signal-caller is sophomore Kenny Hrncir, who has thrown for 900 yards, eight touchdowns, eight interceptions and is completing 50% of his passes. Hrncir is a dual-threat quarterback and has also run for 172 yards this season.
– The top weapon offensively for the Tigers is senior running back Ontario Douglas. Douglas has rushed 73 times for 391 yards and two scores this year and went for over 100 yards on the ground against both Arkansas Tech and Southern Nazarene.
– East Central is last in the GAC in time of possession and is holding the ball for just over 26 minutes per game. ECU has run 295 plays this year and are one of only two teams in the league that has run less than 300 in the first five games.
– The Tigers’ opponents are a combined 7-18 this season. Harding accounts for four of those wins and defeated ECU in the season opener 28-0.
THE COACHING MATCHUP
– Henderson State is led by head coach Scott Maxfield, who is 113-57 in his 16 seasons at the school. Maxfield is six wins away from tying HSU legend Sporty Carpenter for the most wins in program history (119). In his career with the Reddies, Maxfield is 7-2 against East Central.
– East Central’s head coach is Al Johnson, who is in his second season in Ada, Oklahoma and has led the Tigers to a record of 7-9 since 2019. Johnson has faced the Reddies just once, in 2019, when ECU fell to Henderson 48-17 in Arkadelphia. As a player, Johnson was a three-time All-Big 10 selection at center for Wisconsin and was a Rimington Award finalist in 2001. Johnson was taken in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. His professional career spanned six years and four different teams.
THE LAST MEETING
– Henderson State’s offense proved to be too much for East Central, as the Reddies cruised to a 48-17 homecoming win at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium and Ruggles Field.
– HSU put up 465 yards of offense in the win with its starters playing only three quarters. Richard Stammetti led the Reddies and was 18-for-27 on the day for 265 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. HSU ran the ball for 171 yards — 82 of which came from Logan Moragne, who finished with 16 carries and a score. Chase Lodree went over 100 receiving yards for the second time this season with 109 yards on five receptions.
– The Reddies out-scored ECU 14-0 in the first quarter and then 20-0 in the third quarter to take complete control of the game. Henderson led 48-10 after three quarters . The win improved HSU to 6-1 on the year and 4-0 at home.
HALL OF HONOR
– The 24th Hall of Honor class at Henderson State will be inducted on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Garrison Center grand ballroom and will be honored at 1:40 p.m. on the field before kickoff on Saturday. This year’s class includes football legends Darius Davis and Johnny Gross, baseball stars Robert Gilbert and Curtis Thurston, softball record-holder Sarah Gipson, women’s basketball standout Aungelique Sledge, and Arkansas high school coaching icon C.W. Keopple. Receiving special recognition as a part of this year’s Hall of Honor class are longtime Henderson State cross country and tennis coach Brenda Joiner, who is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, and former baseball player Cody Culp, who was selected as the Willie Tate Meritorious Humanitarian Award winner.
IMPORTANT GAMEDAY INFORMATION
– Several different parking options are available for game day. CADC SCAT buses will be staged at the corner of 12th and Wilson streets two hours prior to kickoff, allowing fans to use the parking lots around Henderson’s main campus. The free shuttles will travel down 12th street and drop fans off in two locations: the front of the Wells Center on M.H. Russell Drive, for those who wish to partake in pregame activities, and at the main gate to Carpenter-Haygood Stadium and Ruggles Field. The shuttles will also run up to an hour after the game ends, allowing fans to board at the main gate as they exit and ride back to their cars on campus.
– The two other available public parking lots are the Formby Center lot, located directly in front of the Formby Athletic Complex and next to the Reddie Villas, and the South Wells Center lot, located directly in front of the Duke Wells Center.
– For Reddie Club members, Red and Gray reserved lots are located directly behind the main stands and above Clyde Berry Field. These lots require your Reddie Club parking passes. Handicapped parking is also available in the Red and Gray lot directly behind the main stands.
– Ticket windows at the stadium open two hours before game time. Tickets can also be purchased digitally at hsusports.com/tickets. For more information on buying tickets online, CLICK HERE. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children. All students, faculty or staff with a valid Henderson State ID will be admitted for free, as will children five years old and younger.
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.