It will go down as one of the greatest games ever played in the history of the Battle of the Ravine as No. 4-ranked Henderson State beat Ouachita Baptist 60-52 in triple overtime at A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia, Ark.
A standing room only crowd of 9,648 watched the two teams go back-and-forth before Gary Vines intercepted a Benson Jordan pass in the end zone in the third overtime to secure Henderson’s second straight undefeated regular-season.
"I can’t be any prouder of a team than I am today of this bunch," said Henderson State coach Scott Maxfield. "This was a great football game played by two outstanding football teams. My hat goes off to coach Todd Knight in his team. Both teams left everything they had out on the field and this community should be proud of what they saw today."
Maxfield improved his record to 6-2 against the Tigers. Maxfield has the best winning percentage among all HSU coaches who have faced OBU at least four times in their career. In his ninth season at HSU, only Sporty Carpenter (8-9-2) and Jimmy Haygood (8-8-2) have more wins than Maxfield against OBU.
"This team continued to fight and would not give up," Maxfield added. "We are going to celebrate this win tonight then get to work on Monday for next week’s playoff game."
Leading 31-21 at the end of three quarters, OBU rallied back and took a 35-31 lead after an 8-yard run by Chris Rycraw and a 67-yard punt return by Etauj Allen with 5:48 remaining in the game.
Kevin Rodgers, who completed 29-of-43 passes for 460 yards and 6 touchdowns, did not panic and orchestrated a 15-play, 78-yard scoring drive. On 3rd-and-goal from the 5, Rodgers hit Israel Valentin for the go-ahead score with 1:08 left to play.
Jordan then put a drive together of his own and was able to get the ball into field goal range for Matthew Ehasz who booted a 24-yarder as time expired to force overtime.
In the first OT, it only took Henderson four plays to score as Rodgers connected with Darius Davis for a 9-yard score.
OBU, 7-3 on the season, then answered as Rycraw scored from 8 yards out to make the score 45-45.
The Tigers then regained the lead in the second overtime possession as Jordan scored on a 1-yard run.
Again, Rodgers went to work hitting Davis on a 4th- and-5 for 17 yards down to the OBU 3. After three failed attempts to get into the end zone, Davis’ number was called again on 4th-and-goal as Henderson’s all-time leading receiver made another acrobatic catch to tie the score at 52-52.
In the third overtime, Rodgers and Corey Chappell connected for a 16-yard gain down to the OBU 10. The Reddies then turned to the ground game as Daniel McCoy gained two yards on his first attempt, and then scored on an 8-yard run.
Davis then caught the two-point conversion, tipping the ball up and pulling it down to give the Reddies the 60-52 advantage.
OBU moved the ball down to the Reddie 11 before the Tigers were called for an offensive pass interference call, putting the ball back to the 26. On 4th-and-18 from the 21, Jordan’s last pass was tipped and pulled down by Vines, much to the delight of the Reddie faithful who flooded A.U. Williams field in celebration.
"It was a total team effort tonight," said Maxfield. "Every single player did something that helped us win this game. Championship teams find ways to win and we did that today."
Joseph Snapp was one of many who contributed, as the sophomore receiver had Henderson’s first two touchdown catches, one for 50 yards and the second for 15 yards. Snapp ended the game with four receptions for 80 yards.
Davis finished the game with nine catches for 136 yards, 3 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion, while Al Lasker had 7 catches for 134 yards.
McCoy went over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. The freshman from Prescott, Ark. carried the ball 24 times and led all rushers with 107 yards.
Rycraw carried the ball 27 times for 95 yards to lead the Tigers, while Jordan completed 28-of-45 passes for 282 yards.
Defensively, Keaton Stigger had nine tackles to lead the Reddies. The senior linebacker also had a 2-yard run for a touchdown.
Christian Love and Vines both had eight tackles with Love also having a fumble recovery.
The Reddie offense totaled 604 yards on 86 plays, while the Tigers compiled 461 yards of offense.
Henderson State will now wait for today’s NCAA Division II Playoff show which will air on Sunday at 4 p.m. at www.ncaa.com. The Reddies are expected to be the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Super Region 3 and host a playoff game on Nov. 23.