KILGORE -- The fourth-ranked Kilgore Bulldogs have relied on their suffocating defense all year long, but they needed a couple big plays from their offense to remain unbeaten.

Shut out in the first half, the Bulldogs used a long run on their first drive of the second half and big gainer through the air on their final possession to rally past Henderson, 14-10, Friday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium in the ETSN.fm Dairy Queen Game of the Week.

The win not only kept Kilgore (8-0, 5-0 in District 16-3A) perfect on the season, but it also sets up a de facto district championship game at Gilmer (8-1, 5-0) next week in the regular-season finale.

Henderson's Patrick "Monster" Brown gets tangled up during their game in Kilgore on Friday night. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"We've talked all year about having a chance to make the playoffs and going into that last ballgame with a chance at winning a district championship," Kilgore coach Mike Wood said. "We'll go in next week and see if we can win a district championship for Kilgore."

Henderson (5-4, 3-2), despite the loss, also clinched a postseason berth with Bullard's loss to Gilmer. Regardless of what happens next week, Kilgore will enter the playoffs in the Division I bracket, while Gilmer goes in as the No. 1 seed in Division II and Henderson as No. 2.

The Lions dominated the time of possession, running 60 offensive plays to Kilgore's 37, but the Bulldogs scored when it mattered the most.

Trailing 10-7 late in the fourth quarter, Kilgore senior quarterback hit junior receiver Aaron Foy on a deep route down the left sideline for 47 yards, giving the Bulldogs a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line.

"It was a good throw and good catch," Wood said. "Aaron was able to get behind them. We needed it at that time; we needed to go down there and get a score. They've been making those connections this year."

It took three plays, but Coldiron sneaked it in from a yard out and the extra point made made it 14-10 with just 38 seconds remaining.

Henderson inserted Janson Moore at quarterback on the ensuing drive, and he was intercepted by Q. Brewster with 26 seconds to go, sealing the emotional win.

The long pass play to Foy was the second big-gainer for Kilgore in the half. On the third play of the third quarter, junior Benny Colbert took the shotgun snap, ran over a Henderson defender at midfield and race 55 yards for the touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead early in the third.

"Clutch play. I thank the O-line for stepping up through the hard times in the first half and just forgetting about that," Colbert said. "Once I got past (the defender), I was just thinking green and scoring."

Henderson responded two possessions later, driving 82 yards in 14 plays, and scoring on Patrick "Monster" Brown's 11-yard screen pass to Diamante Wright. The PAT put the Lions on top, 10-7, with 11:08 to go in the fourth.

It looked like Henderson was primed to pull off the upset after forcing consecutive Kilgore three-and-outs. But unfortunately for the Lions, they couldn't make in three in a row as Coldiron and the Kilgore offense began the eventual game-winning drive at their 35 with 3:45 remaining.

Henderson outgained Kilgore, 215-190, and held the Bulldogs to just seven first downs on the night.

"I thought it was outstanding other than the two plays," Henderson coach Dickey Meeks said of his team's defensive effort. "Kilgore's a good team and we knew that coming in. It was a great football game for people watching, it wasn't a whole lot of fun to coach in."

The Lions were led offensively by Brown, who completed 6 of 8 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. He also added 89 yards on 25 rushing attempts.

The Lions were impressive on offense to begin the night, using a 57-yard kickoff return by Brown to set up William Mann's 47-yard field goal. Those three points stood until Colbert's big run to start the third quarter.

"We knew coming in this was going to be an emotional game," Colbert said. "All we had to do was put faith in our teammates. And we got the job done."

Henderson closes out the regular season next week against Gladewater.

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No. 4 Kilgore 14, Henderson 10
At R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, Kilgore
Henderson        3    0    0    7    --    10
Kilgore              0    0    7    7    --    14
First Quarter
HEN--FG William Mann 47, 7:45.
Third Quarter
KIL--Benny Colbert 55 run (Hector Peralez kick), 10:48.
Fourth Quarter
HEN--Diamante Wright 11 pass from Patrick Brown (Mann kick), 11:08.
KIL--Cooper Coldiron 1 run (Peralez kick), :38.

                                       HEN                  KIL
First Downs                          13                     6
Rushes-Yards                49-129             27-126
Passing Yards                       86                   64
Comp.-Att.-Int.               6-11-1              4-10-1
Punts-Avg.                      3-27.3             6-37.3
Fumbles-Lost                       4-1                 0-0
Penalties-Yards                  3-30                4-20

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Henderson, Patrick Brown 25-89, Diamante Wright 17-27, Jamal King 3-7, Mikel Lewis 2-4, Arquez Walton 1-4, J'Korrie Center 1-(-2). Kilgore, Cooper Coldiron 8-48, Benny Colbert 3-46, Austin Jordan 7-17, JuJu Brown 9-15.
PASSING--Henderson, Brown 6-8-0--86, Janson Moore 0-2-1--0, Vince McNew 0-1-0--0. Kilgore, Coldiron 4-10-1--64.
RECEIVING--Henderson, Lewis 2-64, Wright 1-11, Zane Boles 1-8, Tre' Hollins 1-5, Jamie Anthony 1-(-2). Kilgore, Aaron Foy 1-47, Nick Orange 1-11, Jarod Wood 1-5, Colbert 1-1.

Kilgore's JuJu Brown is pulled down near the sideline against Henderson on Friday night in Kilgore. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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