An end zone-to-end zone dash by Daylon Garrett and a game-ending interception in the hands of Tre Simpson assured a 27-20 victory for Henderson High over visiting District rival Mabank Friday. The Lions earned their second 4A-1 Region III District 9 win and kept alive their chances for a playoff spot.

“We’ve dropped three games in district, so we’ve got to win the next two if we’re going to be in the playoffs,” Henderson Head Coach Phil Castles noted before the Mabank game. 

His Lions returned a winning edge with their first possession in the first quarter. Quarterback Deuce Davis, from his own 44-yard line, advanced his Lions past the Panther’s 30-marker and capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Cordarius Grange. Teammate Jim Jose’s attempt for a seventh point missed the uprights.

Early in the second quarter, with the scoreboard balanced at 6-all, Henderson recovered a Mabank fumble on the Panther 12. It took Davis and crew two plays to clear the path for Running Back D’Cameron Walker and another six points. Jose’s toe assured 13 for H-town.

Henderson’s last gains came in the fourth. Trailing 20-13, the Lions took a Mabank punt to the Panther 28, then the four-yard line. Another snap of pigskin and Walker’s feet were in Mabank’s back yard. Jose booted in the tying 20 with 2:59 on the clock.

Mabank threatened again deep in Lion country. A pass by Quarterback Dahltyn McKinnley intended for fellow senior Jordan Nguyen in the Lion end zone was snatched by Garrett, and the junior wide receiver sped it 103 yards to 26 points and thunderous applause. Jose guaranteed the 27th kick.

Mabank owned the ball in the closing minutes of the game. McKinnley and his Panthers made it to the Lion 30, the 16th, and the three. Another pass for a Panther player landed in the mitts of Simpson. The Henderson side roared again, and Simpson’s smile was almost as wide as the stadium.

All the Football Seniors and cheerleaders, accompanied by their parents and siblings, were recognized shortly before game time. Sakaylon Roquemore was announced as Henderson’s Homecoming Queen. 

Panther scores that evening were a seven-yard touchdown by Marcus Pruitt in the first quarter; a five-yard pass from McKinnley to Kirby Hargett at the bottom of the second; and a three-yard score by Davontae Lowe in the first drive of the second half. Kieran McDonald accomplished two of his three PAT attempts.

The Lions bettered to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in district play. They will close regular-season football with a road game against Chapel Hill (5-4, 2-3) on Nov. 6. 

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