Reddies grab first NCAA playoff victory

The third time was a charm for Henderson State as the Reddies won their first-ever NCAA playoff game with a 23-16 victory over No. 16 Sioux Falls, Saturday at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia, Ark.

The No. 8 Reddies picked off Harlon Hill Candidate quarterback Luke Papilion three times including one on USF's final drive to secure the victory for Henderson.

Henderson, 11-1 on the season, hosted playoff games in 2012 and 2013 losing both games. Saturday was a different as the Reddie defense applied plenty of pressure on Papilion forcing him out of the pocket numerous times.

With the win, Henderson advances to take on an Emporia State team that upset Minnesota State-Mankato. The Reddies will host the Hornets on Saturday, Nov. 28 with kickoff set for Noon at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium.

Henderson scored on its opening possession as Jaquan Cole broke free for a 10 yard run around right end to put the Reddies on top 7-0.

The big play of the drive was a 22-yard pass from Dallas Hardison to JaVante Mack for 22 yards down to the Sioux Falls 33.

Sioux Falls moved the ball down field on its opening drive, but the Reddie defense held strong and forced a 31-yard field goal by Brett Garner as the Cougars cut the Reddie lead to 7-3 with 7:59 left in the first quarter.

Henderson would stop a USF drive late in the quarter when Gary Vines intercepted a Luke Papilion pass and returned it to the Reddie 24.

Cole would then have carries of 5, 14 and 28 yards to move the ball down to the Sioux Falls 29, but Rodney Bryson lost hold of the football on his first carry with Matt Young recovering for the Cougars.

USF would advance the ball to midfield but be forced to punt. Darion Gray would take Stuart Vanden-Heuval's kick and return it 51 yards to the USF 40 to set up Henderson's next score.

On 3rd-and-10, Hardison would hit Joseph Snapp on a crossing route for 38 yards down to the Cougar 2. Two plays later, Hardison would score from the 1 to put HSU on top 14-3.

USF would add a 21-yard field goal by Garner, and score its only touchdown of the game late in the half on a 3-yard plunge by Papilion to make the score 14-13 at the break.

Midway through the third quarter, Henderson would put together a 12-play, 69-yard drive with Hardison finding Mark Czaus on the sidelines for an 18-yard touchdown to increase the Reddie lead to 21-13.

Henderson's defense would put the next points on the board as Jordan Dominguez along with several other Reddies chased Papilion back into his own end zone where he attempted to get rid of the football. However, Papiliion's pass never cross the line of scrimmage and was penalized for intentional grounding which resulted in a safety to increase the HSU lead to 23-13.

Sioux Falls, 9-3 on the season, would make it a one possession game with 5:32 remaining as Garner booted a 25-yard field goal to make the score 23-16.

The Cougars had one last chance getting the ball back with 1:57 remaining and starting from their own 18-yardline.

Papilion began moving his team down field and converted on a 3rd-and-7 and a 4th-and -6 to keep the drive alive.

With time ticking away and USF facing a 2nd-and-5 from the Reddie 24, Papillion was again under pressure by the Reddie defense and threw an errant pass that was picked off by Tiyun Avery with 10 seconds left in the game.

Sioux Falls ran a total of 90 offensive plays and managed 422 yards of offense, while the Reddies compiled 282 yards on 66 plays.

Cole ended the game with 147 yards rushing on 31 attempts becoming the 10th player in HSU history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.

Papilion led USF with 67 yards rushing, while completing 32-of-51 passes for 279 yards. It was only the third time this season that Papilion failed to record a passing touchdown.

The Reddie defense was led by Josh Davis with 11 tackles, while Dondre Wright and Lawson Schulz had 10 tackles each.

With interceptions by Vines, Avery and Trevon Del Rio, the Reddies set a school record for interceptions in a season with 28 which leads the nation.