Henderson State Wins Battle, Hosts Division II Football Playoff


By J. Frank Parnell

The Henderson State University Reddies walked a few hundred yards Saturday afternoon and strolled home with a 21-17 win over the Ouachita Baptist Tigers after the 89th Battle of the Ravine in Arkadelphia.

The Reddies, ranked eighth nationally in Division II, used a balanced attack and a stout defense to top the Tigers. The last regular-season game for both teams left Henderson at 10-1 and Ouachita at 7-4.

Henderson’s Jaquan Cole led all rushers with 95 yards on 25 carries; Ouachita’s Kris Oliver had 94 yards on 21 attempts. Corey Chappell caught five passes for 89 yards for Henderson, and Ouachita’s Evian Hill had two receptions for 35 yards. Quarterback Dallas Hardison completed 22 of 30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown for Henderson. Ouachita’s Austin Warford hit 8 of 19 throws for 80 yards.

There were no turnovers in the game but penalties played a role.

Henderson scored first when Ryan McDonald ran in from the 1-yard line, capping an 84-yard drive with 7:23 left in the opening quarter.

Ouachita answered with its own 84-yard drive. Warford went 7 yards around right end with 1:41 to play in the first quarter. The extra point made the score 7-7.

Henderson went ahead 14-7 with 8:26 left in the half. Mark Czaus made a one-handed catch on a 5-yard pass in the left flat. The catch ended an 80-yard drive aided by a 42-yard catch by Corey Chappell and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on OBU.

Ouachita’s Cole Antley ended a 63-yard push when he nailed a 25-yard field goal with 1:22 left in the second quarter to cut Henderson’s lead to 14-10.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, and Henderson started at its 35-yard line. After a quick drive, Ray Houston missed a 42-yard field goal attempt as time expired.

After halftime, Rodney Bryson ran 15 yards up the gut with 10:33 left in the third quarter to bump the lead to 21-10. The score was the payoff after a 75-yard drive.

Ouachita started its first drive of the second half at its 10-yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on third down and long gave Ouachita a first down at its 27. That was followed by a face mask penalty on the next play, which moved the ball to the Ouachita 45. Oliver eventually climbed over the left side of the line at 4:51 of the third quarter. The kick tightened the screws, 21-17.

Henderson returned the kickoff to its 17-yard line. On third down and 9, Czaus dropped a pass at midfield that easily could have added to Henderson’s lead.

After Henderson’s punt, Ouachita took over at its 42 but failed to move the sticks.

A solid punt set up Henderson at its 8 with 2:28 to go in the third quarter. The drive fizzled at the Henderson 34, and Ouachita took over its 34 after a punt. Ouachita gave the ball back quickly, and Henderson started a three-play drive from its 13-yard line.

As the following punt settled at midfield, Henderson’s Adrian Tucker was ejected for targeting after he hit Ke Vontae Pope, who was trying to field the kick. The penalty gave Ouachita the ball at Henderson’s 34.

The drive stalled. With 8:25 to play, Henderson had the ball at its 13 following Ouachita’s punt. Other than taking a little time off the clock, Henderson’s offense could do nothing, and was forced to give up the rock.

At the 6:51 point, Ouachita was first and 10 at its 42. About a minute later, Ouachita punted to the Henderson 10 yard line.

On third and long, Hardison hit Joseph Snapp at the Henderson 42-yard line to keep the drive alive and keep the clock rolling. A few more first downs against a weary Ouachita defense closed the deal.

* * *

Henderson State will host a NCAA Division II Football Playoff game for the third time in four years as the Reddies play host to Sioux Falls on Saturday, Nov. 21 with kickoff set for Noon at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.

The Reddies, ranked No. 8 in the AFCA Coaches Poll, are coming off a 21-17 victory over Ouachita Baptist on Saturday to improve to 10-1 on the season.

Sioux Falls, ranked 17th nationally, will enter the postseason with a 9-2 record following its 69-20 win over Upper Iowa. The Cougars are making their first-ever NCAA Division II playoff appearance.

Tickets will be on sale from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the Henderson State Athletic Department located at the Duke Wells Center. No phone orders will be accepted. Tickets must be purchased with cash or check only.

All tickets are for general admission seating and are $7 for adults, $5 for students from participating institutions with valid school identification and $5 for children K through 12.

HSU student tickets will be provided by Henderson State University with students able obtain tickets at the Residence Life Office in Womack Hall beginning at Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All faculty and staff must purchase tickets.

In accordance with NCAA policy, no passes of any kind, including Arkansas Activities Association, Great American Conference and HSU lifetime passes will be accepted.
Gates for Saturday’s game will open at 10 a.m. with the ticket windows opening at 9:30 a.m.

Henderson State is ranked No. 3 in Super Region 3, while the Cougars are ranked No. 6. The winner will face the winner of No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato and No. 7 Emporia State the following week with the highest seed hosting on Nov. 28.

The other side of the bracket has No. 4 Humboldt State hosting No. 5 Augustana with the winner facing top seeded Northwest Missouri State.

The USF offense averages 41.5 points and 476.6 yards of total offense per game and features a versatile quarterback in Luke Papilion.

The junior from Denver, Colo. has completed 210-of-360 passes for 2905 yards and 30 touchdowns. Papilion also leads the Cougar ground having rushed for 787 yards while scoring six touchdowns.

Max Mickey and Justin Fulks also highlight the USF backfield with Mickey averaging 60.3 yards per game with a team-best nine touchdowns, while Fulks averages 51.2 yards per game with three scores.

The Cougars are deep at the receiver position with seven receivers having 100 or more receiving yards.

Brady Rose leads the receiving corps with 61 catches for 868 yards and 10 touchdowns, while teammate Josh Angulo has 53 catches for 832 yards and 8 scores.

Defensively allows 369.6 yards per game with opponents averaging just 21.3 points per contest.

Defensive back Josh Butler leads the Cougar defense having 95 total tackles including 8 pass breakups.

Linebacker Carter Ahlers follows with 89 tackles along with 8 tackles for lost yardage.

Henderson State will really on its defensive unit which allows just 302 yards and 14.6 points per contest.

The Reddies lead the nation in pass interceptions with Tavares Garner and Darius Thomas having four picks each, while Gary Vines, and Kenrick Burnshave three.

Linebacker Josh Davis leads the team with 83 total tackles including 11.5 for lost yardage while Lawson Schulz has 80 stops and 9 takedowns for loss.

Henderson’s offense is led by quarterback Dallas Hardison who has compiled 2105 yards passing while completing 62.5 percent of his passes.

Jaquan Cole leads the ground game averaging 97.2 yards per contest while scoring seven touchdowns.

Henderson’s third playoff appearance ties Arkansas Tech for most NCAA Division II playoff appearance by an Arkansas institution.

division II football playoff



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