By COURTLIN HAYGARTH | HSU Sports Network
ARKADELPHIA — After trailing at halftime 13-10, Landon Ledbetter came in for his first game action since week one, captaining a 21-10 second half to give Henderson State the 31-23 victory, extending its winning streak over Southeastern Oklahoma State to 12 games.
The aforementioned Ledbetter recorded 187 yards of total offense, including 103 on the ground, and two touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore from Midlothian, Texas has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in both of his starts this season. Korien Burrell acted as the lead runner out of the backfield, seeing his second 100-yard game of his collegiate career with 119 yards.
Ledbetter and Burrell are the first Reddie duo to surpass 100 yards on the ground since Querale Hall (173) and Logan Moragne (165) against Oklahoma Baptist in 2018. Through the air, Xavier Malone caught five passes for 163 and two scores, extending his league-leading touchdown grabs to eight.
On the defensive side of the ball, HSU totaled six quarterback hurries, four tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and a blocked extra point. Henderson turned the Savage Storm over on downs twice inside the Reddies’ 25 yard line, including a goal-line stand right before the half to keep the deficit at three.
Deldric Shields led the HSU secondary on the afternoon with three pass breakups and five tackles, followed by Darrick Rose Jr. with a pair of breakups and five take downs. Jacob Greenfield also registered his first career interception, while also recording a tackle for loss in the win.
With the victory, head coach Scott Maxfield reached his 150th win in his coaching career. At the last home game against Arkansas-Monticello, Maxfield became the all-time winningest head coach in Henderson State history with win number 120.
Both teams scored on their opening drives, but it was Southeastern who came out with the touchdown to see the early 7-3 lead. With SE driving again on their second offensive possession and threatening a double-digit first-quarter lead, Greenfield picked off a tipped Daulton Hatley pass to keep the deficit at four. With the quick momentum change, Henderson immediately took its chance with an 83-yard shot from quarterback Andrew Edwards to Malone down the left sideline to give HSU its first lead of the game with 1:17 remaining in the opening quarter, 10-7.
The next two drives of the game finished with a turnover on downs for the Savage Storm and a punt from Henderson before Southeastern reclaimed the lead with 7:54 to go in the half. A blocked extra point from Denzel Walter kept the contest at a field-goal difference, 13-10. Another punt from HSU gave Southeastern its second opportunity to open up the lead a bit, but a stout goal-line stand in the waning seconds of the quarter kept the game in reach for Henderson.
The team came out of the locker room with a different look at quarterback as Ledbetter made his first appearance since the home-opener versus Southwestern Oklahoma State. The decision by the coaching staff immediately paid off as HSU went right down the field with a 12-play, 52-yard drive capped off with a Ledbetter two-yard keeper to put Henderson back ahead, 17-13.
A long ensuing drive for the Storm left the visiting fans wanting more as HSU defense stood its ground yet again, allowing SE to only cut the deficit to one with a 40-yard field goal to make the score 17-16. From there, Ledbetter took over with his legs and arm. A 40-yard scamper from the signal caller led to a Jeremiah Davis one-yard plunge into the endzone on the ensuing drive before Southeastern’s first punt of the game preceded A 72-yard strike to Malone down the middle of the field for the wideout’s second score of the game.
With Henderson sporting the largest lead of the game for either side at 31-16 with just over 10 minutes remaining, a touchdown followed by a successful onside kick from the Savage Storm kept things interesting down the stretch, but SE’s second turnover on downs of the game, thanks to a fourth-down pass breakup from cornerback Cameron Thomas, all but decided the week-four matchup.
A missed HSU field goal gave Southeastern one final chance down by eight, 31-23, but a quick four-and-out from the Storm kept HSU undefeated at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium this season.
Henderson (4-1) will now go on the road for back-to-back weeks, beginning first with a trip to Ada, Oklahoma to face East Central Saturday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. before showdown with current No. 16 Harding in Searcy Saturday, Oct. 15.