What was once a four-way tie for three playoff spots in District 10, Class 4A football has been sorted out as the Henderson Lions defeated the Van Vandals 35-20 to claim third place in the district race.
Carthage took the district title with a 49-11 over Kilgore, and Palestine escaped Chapel Hill with a 28-21 win for second place. Kilgore takes the fourth place spot by virtue of a tiebreaker over Van.
Henderson will take on Midlothian Heritage Friday at Tyler Rose Stadium.
The Lions put together both ends of the game plan offensively and defensively.
The offense put together 188 yards rushing and 191 passing.
The defense had what would have been a pick-six, but that play was called back for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Lions punched the ball in two plays later from 11 yards out.
Henderson harassed Van quarterback Jayton Moffatt on nearly a dozen plays, picking off a pass, striping the ball off his hands in a goal-line situation.
The defense also held the Vandals out of the end zone of four consecutive tries for a textbook goal line stand.
“Gosh, that was big wasn’t it,” Henderson Coach Phil Castles said. “It was great for our kids. Had some trouble stopping the run all night long.”
Henderson stuffed three running attempts on a Van drive in the fourth quarter. When Moffatt resorted to a pass play on fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Henderson sniffed it out and nailed receiver Hunter Hutchins well short of the goal line.
“They threw it a bunch, which means we always have a lot of opportunities,” he said. “We got some kids in there that know how to pressure him and we had good coverage. A lot of those pressures come because he had to pull it down and hold it.”
It was 21-13 at the half after both teams pounded the offense up and down the field.
But Van seemed to make some mental mistakes in the both halves.
A 50-yard punt return for a TD was called back for a block in the back.
On two different occasions, facemask penalties helped Henderson move the chains in the first half.
Unofficially, Henderson had a stellar night offensively.
Quarterback Caleb Medford rushed 18 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Medford had a career night passing hitting five different targets on a 10-12-0 performance for 191 yards and a touchdown strike to Kevin Fields.
But the receiver of choice was J’Varron Fuller who had five catches for 131 yards.
From the running back position Fields had 12 touches for 75 yards and a touchdown.