Story and photo courtesy of Henderson State Athletics
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – A Henderson State single-game record of 12,035 fans saw the high-octane offense that has been the 2012 Henderson State football team veer from their norm as a prolific passing attack to an offense that found a wealth of success on the ground to the tune of 305 yards on Saturday afternoon as they cruised to a 42-7 rout over cross-street rival Ouachita Baptist in the 2012 Southern Bancorp Battle of the Ravine.
The win for the Reddies (10-0, 8-0 GAC) not only gives them the coveted claim as the Southern Bancorp Battle of the Ravine champions, but it also gives them the outright Great American Conference Championship, an unbeaten and untied regular season for the first time in school history, and it puts the Reddies in a position to host a NCAA Division II playoff game; also a first time in school history.
Touchdowns on their first three drives of the game gave the Reddies an early 21-0 lead that they would only build on as the game wore on.
The first score for Henderson came through the air as Kevin Rodgers connected with Robert Jordan on a 24-yard seam route to cap a 6-play, 61-yard drive. The two offensive standouts, Rodgers and Jordan, have hooked up for 10 touchdowns this season, ranking them as one of the top throw-and-catch combinations in the conference and country.
A more methodical scoring drive was turned in by the Reddies on their second possession as they traveled 93 yards on 10 plays in 3:37. The final play of that drive was an 11-yard scamper up the middle by senior running back Jarvis Smith. On the Reddies' ensuing drive, fellow running back Kevin Nichols forced his way, from 1-yard out, into the end zone with time expiring in the first quarter to give the Reddies a 21-0 lead over Ouachita.
The Tigers (6-4, 4-4 GAC) would show signs of life on their first drive of the second quarter as they engineered a 14-play, 84-yard scoring drive that ate up 5:49 of game clock. Ending that lengthy drive was Steven Kehner as he took a direct snap untouched into the end zone for Ouachita's first points of the game.
With their lead now cut to 14 points (21-7), the Reddies answered OBU's scoring drive by embarking on a 9-play, 65-yard drive that saw Nichols notch his second rushing touchdown of the game to push their lead back to three scores.
After forcing the Tigers to punt with 4:19 remaining in the first half, the Reddies had the ball on the Ouachita side of the field and began to march down the field once more. With the ball on the OBU 27-yardline, the Reddies saw their drive came to an abrupt halt when Rodgers threw an interception to Aaron Garrett, giving OBU possession with 3:27 remaining in the first half.
On OBU's ensuing possession, the Tigers were able to pick up one first down, but were eventually forced to punt away once more and the Reddies took over possession with 1:08 left to go in the half.
With all three of their timeouts remaining, the Henderson offense had their entire playbook available as they looked to score once more before the break. On the first play of that drive, which started on the HSU 16-yardline, Jarvis Smith delivered the death blow of the game as he rushed over the right guard and quickly got past the secondary, racing down the sidelines 80 yards before eventually being stopped at the OBU 4-yardline. On the very next play, Nichols found the end zone from 4 yards out to give the Reddies a 35-7 lead at the half.
After the two teams combined for 42 points in the first half, only seven more would light up the scoreboard in the entire second half. Nichols, already with three rushing touchdowns in the game, delivered that final score as he crafted a 17-yard rushing touchdown with 9:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Nichols and Smith most certainly shouldered the load as the two running backs would combine for 251 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.
An atypical day for Rodgers saw the sophomore throw for just 209 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Robert Jordan was the receiver of choice for Rodgers as Jordan hauled in eight catches for 83 yards and one touchdown. Dustin Holland had a big 48-yard grab and ended with three catches for 68 yards.
Maxie Graham led the team defensively with 17 total tackles.