Henderson State wins Ravine battle for 10-0 mark

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published November 15, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 14, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Henderson State University fans cheer for the Reddies during the Battle of the Ravine at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. Henderson State won the game, 42-7, to complete its first-ever 10-0 season and capture the Great American Conference championship.

— Perhaps there is some kind of advantage to having an athlete alumnus as president of the university, even if he never played a game.

Henderson State University scored within the first three minutes of the Battle of the Ravine with the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers on Saturday afternoon, and the game went the Reddies’ way for the rest of the day to complete their season undefeated and untied.

“I am not their good-luck charm,” HSU President Glen Jones said during the second quarter of the Reddies’ 42-7 victory over the team from across the street. “We have very talented coaches who know what they are doing, and very talented players who can get the job done.”

Jones, who entered HSU as a freshman football player more than 20 years ago, often reminds people that he never played a game. Before he could establish himself as an offensive tackle, Jones was injured, tearing every muscle and ligament in his knee. He also became ill, and his playing career never started.

Talisman or not, the new president watched the team win 10 games this season and capture the Great American Conference title. This week, he and his school will enjoy a bye week before hosting a Super Regional 3 game as part of the NCAA Division II National Championship Playoffs.

HSU coach Scott Maxfield said after the Ouachita game that his team had earned a week off.

“I think we should,” he said. “We’re 10-0.”

Henderson State football has not been part of postseason play since the 1985 NAIA playoffs.

“We came out smoking,” Maxfield said. “It’s pretty awesome to sit here undefeated.”

Pregame ceremonies honored Reddie seniors. The game began with the Reddies taking the opening kickoff on a drive that ended when sophomore quarterback Kevin Rodgers threw over the middle for receiver Robert Jordan for a 24-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

By the end of the first quarter, it was 21-0 HSU ,and the score was 35-7 at halftime. It was a day when the Reddies seemed destined to win, even though Rodgers was only 15 of 26 in the air with 209 yards, his least-effective game of the season.

As the game clock flashed the last few moments of the showdown, the coaches received the ritual showers from the big water jugs, and players doused each other from water bottles, and the Battle of the Ravine ended with Henderson State leading the series 41-39-6.

It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that the team learned it was the second seed in the Super Regional 3. The Reddies gathered as a team in a meeting room on campus to find out how they were placed in the playoffs.

Henderson will now watch closely the match between third-seed Missouri Western State University and sixth-seed University of Minnesota-Duluth in St. Joseph, Mo., on Saturday.

Looking ahead, Maxfield used the familiar adage that “On any given day, I think we can play with any team in the nation.”

As for Saturday’s game with rival Ouachita Baptist, President Jones said he was happy to learn the game was played before a record crowd of 12,036 at HSU’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium, which seats only 9,600.

“This crowd is more than just the two schools; it is the people of Arkadelphia and this region supporting these two schools and the community,” he said. “I am glad they took this opportunity to support higher education in south Arkansas and for Henderson fans to enjoy the day and the game.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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