By COURTLIN HAYGARTH | HSU Sports Network
BETHANY, Okla. — It was a tale of two halves for the Henderson State offense as HSU overcame a seven-point opening 30 minutes of game time and its first overtime contest of the season, scoring on its first three drives of the second half and stopping Southern Nazarene’s two-point try in the extra period to come away with the 42-41 victory over the Crimson Storm.
Running back Korien Burrell set a program record with five rushing touchdowns in the contest, besting Keaton Stigger when he set the previous record of four scores on the ground in 2013. Burrell now has 12 scores on the season; one shy of matching the fifth most rushing touchdowns in HSU history.
In addition to the five scores, Burrell carried the ball 26 times for 135 yards, tallying 5.2 yards per carry. Xavier Malone and Matt Childers led HSU in receiving as both pass catchers pulled in five receptions for 66 and 63 yards, respectively. Defensively, Jordan Owens led the unit with eight total tackles, followed by Andrew Croker with seven, including the game-winning tackle in overtime.
After a first quarter that saw the Reddies pick up five yards of offense on six plays, HSU’s defense did all it could to keep the Crimson Storm out of the endzone as play went into the second quarter scoreless, 0-0. Southern Nazarene did, however, score within the first minute of the second for the game’s first points of the game, 6-0. Henderson responded with its best drive of the game up to that point, but an interception kept Henderson from cutting into the lead.
Another score for the Crimson Storm off the turnover gave SNU the brief two-score lead before the visitors put together its first scoring drive, resulting in Burrell seeing his first touchdown of the game. After both sides alternated punts, Southern Nazarene found pay dirt one final time before the break, heading into the locker room up 20-7.
After the Reddies managed just seven points through the first half, it took all of four plays in the second to extend that its current total to 14 as Edwards connected with Malone on an 11-yard shovel pass up in the middle, set up by a Burrell 46 yard scamper to the Southern Nazarene 18 yard line. The Crimson Storm responded with another touchdown to reestablish the 13 point lead, 27-14. Once again, HSU scored to cut the lead back down to six as a revitalized Reddie offense looked to remain within striking distance.
The very first play of the series found Henderson defensive back Darrick Rose Jr. as HSU came away with its first turnover of the afternoon. Five plays later, Burrell plunged into the endzone to give Henderson its first lead of the game with 51 seconds remaining in the third quarter, 28-27. A forced punt from the Reddies yielded what seemed at the time to be the final dagger with 3:54 remaining in regulation to give HSU the eight-point lead, 35-27.
SNU quarterback Gage Porter had other plans, leading the Crimson Storm down the field before scoring his fourth rushing touchdown of the game as a successful two-point try from Porter knotted the game at 35-all. With just over 50 seconds remaining, offenses stalled as play moved to overtime.
The Reddies got the ball first in the extra period, converting a third and five from SNU’s 20 before Burrell recorded his record-setting fifth rushing touchdown on a two-yard dive. Southern Nazarene got the ball for its chance at scoring, which it did in three plays before Porter saw his respective fifth touchdown. With the one-point deficit facing Southern Nazarene, head coach Dustin Hada did not hesitate as the Crimson Storm offense stayed on the field for a chance at the win.
An option play to the running back was bobbled and briefly hit the turf, giving HSU’s Andrew Croker time to corral the Crimson Storm ball carrier, sending the HSU sideline into euphoria as the Reddies escaped Bethany, Oklahoma with the 42-41 victory.
The Reddies (7-2) will return to Carpenter-Haygood Stadium at GeoSurfaces Field for its final two games of the season, starting first with Oklahoma Baptist Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. before ending the year with the 95th Battle of the Ravine Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.