JACKSONVILLE – The 2019 Tomato Bowl victory swung Henderson’s way with a 67-40 shellacking of the Jacksonville Indians to spoil a homecoming event Friday night in non-conference action.
According to a coach after the game, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.
Henderson coach Phil Castles was asked if this game was a pleasant surprise or an unexpected pleasure?
“You know, I thought we would improve in some areas that we didn’t improve in,” he said. “Which is always frustrating. But our kids, you cannot doubt the effort they gave and they never gave up.”
Jacksonville came from behind to win last week against Palestine, so a 30-20 halftime score was not necessarily safe.
The two teams went at each other in the first half like two heavyweight boxers pounding on one another.
Henderson drew first blood at the 7:46 mark of the first quarter when Kevin Fields found pay dirt from 29 yards out. Henderson shanked the PAT, but led 6-0.
Jacksonville answered almost immediately with a 29-yard pass from Chris Carpenter to Jaylon Freeney with a halfback option. Jacksonville converted the PAT and led 7-6.
Near the end of the first quarter, Caleb Medford carved a 15-yard path to the end zone, the PAT was good by Enrique Garza and Henderson had the lead 13-7.
Henderson scored early in the second quarter on a Medford to JyAaron Fuller 37-yard pass combo with another Garza PAT making the score 20-7.
Jacksonville marched right back down the field five minutes with a 9-yard pass on a fourth-and-goal for Jacksonville from Patrick Clater to Carpenter, and the Indians edged closer 20-14.
Henderson scored two more times with a TD and a 31-yard field goal by Garza and the Indians tacked on another score for the halftime 30-20 Henderson lead.
Both teams scored liberally in the third quarter, including Jacksonville’s 71-yard pass play from Clater to Freeney over the middle and past the Henderson defense.
Henderson got some breathing room when they sacked Clater and then took the ensuing kickoff and scored from 29 yards out on a D’Cameron Walker run, giving Henderson a 53-34 lead.
Henderson had 494 yards rushing with three 100-plus rushers on the night.
Leading the way for the Lions were Fields with 137 yards on 10 carries and two TDs. Jakobie Bussey was next with 111 yards on five carries and a TD. Medford rushed 10 times for 106 yards and a score. He also passed for 91 yards and a touchdown six-of-nine performance.
Avonta Holloway had stand out performance in a fill-in role with 58 yards, and a touchdown on just five carries.
Finally, Walker had 69 yards on six carries and two touchdowns.
For Jacksonville, Clater was 11-for-20 passing for 236 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
Freeney had 129 yards receiving, and two TDs. And Carpenter had 67 yard receiving and one touchdown.
Henderson (2-1) will have its homecoming this next week as they host Center.