Wright, Brown Power Henderson Ground Game in 48-21 Win Against Van
TYLER -- Once Henderson got the turnover bug out of its system, Van's defense was no match for the Lions' ground game.
Senior running back Diamante Wright and senior quarterback Patrick "Monster" Brown spearheaded a Henderson rushing attack that gashed Van for more than 400 yards in a 48-21 victory in Friday's Class 3A Division II Region II bi-district football playoff at TMF Rose Stadium.
Henderson (7-4), which fell behind 21-14 early in the second quarter after two turnovers, plays Quinlan Ford (8-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Royse City ISD Stadium in a 3A Division II Region II area playoff.
Wright ran 26 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns, while Brown added 19 carries for 187 yards and three scores to power a Henderson offense that amassed 403 rushing yards and outgained Van 497-350.
"We knew last year that he was a good back," Henderson coach Dickey Meeks said of Wright. "We just had Jay (O'Neal) in front of him. He's coming along now at the right time, and it's been a good surprise for us.
"We really thought we could run the ball. We thought if we could control most of the line of scrimmage we could do that. Even with them playing a safety up in the box we were still able to run the ball."
Henderson did indeed control most of the line of scrimmage, but not all. Van senior defensive tackle Syd Moore had six tackles for loss, one sack, and a forced fumble, which led to a 19-yard Hunter Hopkins touchdown run two plays later that tied the game 14-14 at the second quarter's 9:52 mark.
Van senior linebacker Bryce Krumvieda's 47-yard interception return touchdown two plays after that capped a 21-point run that gave Van a seven-point lead, but Henderson scored the game's final 34 points. Wright capped a 63-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run halfway through the second to tie the game, then William Mann kicked his first of two field goals (23, 20) for a 24-21 Henderson advantage 19 seconds before halftime.
But Henderson blew it open in the second half. The Lions' defense pressured Van senior quarterback Garrett Smallwood more as the game progressed, and the Henderson offense continued to rip big gains on the ground. Wright scored a 24-yard touchdown run five minutes into the third for 31-21 before Mann pushed Henderson's lead to 34-21 less than two minutes into the fourth.
A fourth-and-1 stop at its own 27-yard line gave Henderson the ball back with 8:16 left. Wright ran for six, 29, and 11 yards on the next three plays to set up a 27-yard Brown touchdown run that put the Lions ahead 41-21 with 6:16 remaining.
Senior linebacker Kenny McCown iced the game with an easy 12-yard interception return touchdown with two minutes left.
Brown put Henderson the scoreboard in the first with touchdown runs of 9 and 34 yards.
"He's a great athlete," Meeks said of Brown. "I've said it all along. There's not any question about that. He just keeps making plays. It's not anything we design a lot of. A lot of it is we say, 'Start this way and go where you need to.'"
Brown also caught two passes for 22 yards and completed 3 of 4 passes for 72 yards to give him 281 total yards. Junior Tre' Hollins caught two passes for 58 yards and returned a punt 27 yards to set up Mann's second field goal.
Henderson's second-half pass rush led to Van passing 6-for-22 in the final two quarters. Smallwood finished 13 of 34 for 167 yards and two interceptions, the first of which went to Henderson senior defensive back J'Korrie Centers at the Lion 9-yard line on a fourth-and-9 play from Henderson's 19 halfway through the first quarter. Smallwood ran for 71 yards on 14 carries.
Henderson had another big red-zone takeaway when senior linebacker Arqez Walton chased down Van sophomore Luke McGowan on a 42-yard pass play over the middle and stripped him, resulting in a Henderson recovery inside the 5-yard line to preserve a 21-21 tie with four minutes left in the first half.
McGowan led Van with four catches for 69 yards. Hopkins ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Sophomore Matt Savis had eight carries for 32 yards and a touchdown, and Moore had a one-yard TD run.
The loss is Van's third in as many seasons to a "District of Doom" team. Gilmer eliminated the Vandals in the second round each of the last two years.
Class 3A Division II Region II
Henderson 48, Van 21
TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler
Henderson -- 14 10 7 17 -- 48
Van -- 0 21 0 0 -- 21
HEN -- Patrick Brown 9 run (William Mann kick) -- 10:02
HEN -- Brown 34 run (Mann kick) -- 2:55
VAN -- Matt Savis 16 run (Frankie Grijalva kick) -- 11:16
VAN -- Hunter Hopkins 19 run (Grijalva kick) -- 9:52
VAN -- Bryce Krumvieda 47 interception return (Grijalva kick) -- 9:41
HEN -- Diamante Wright 13 run (Mann kick) -- 5:44
HEN -- Mann 23 field goal -- 0:09
HEN -- Wright 24 run (Mann kick) -- 6:47
HEN -- Mann 20 field goal -- 10:20
HEN -- Brown 27 run (Mann kick) -- 6:16
HEN -- Kenny McCown 12 interception return (Mann kick) -- 2:02
First downs 19 15
Rushes-Yards 53-403 33-183
Pass Yards 94 167
Comp.-Att.-Int. 5-9-1 13-34-2
Penalties-Yards 3-25 5-30
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1
Punts-Avg. 3-35.7 2-28.5
Rushing -- Henderson: Diamante Wright 26-206, Patrick "Monster" Brown 19-187, Mikel Lewis 3-14, Jamaal Kind 2-13, TEAM 2-(-7), Janson Moore 1-(-10). Van: Garrett Smallwood 14-71, Hunter Hopkins 8-65, Matt Savis 8-32, Syd Moore 3-15.
Passing -- Henderson: Patrick "Monster" Brown 3-4-1 72, Janson Moore 2-5-0 22. Van: Garrett Smallwood 13-34-2 167.
Receiving -- Henderson: Tre' Hollins 2-58, Patrick "Monster" Brown 2-22, Jamie Anthony 1-14. Van: Luke McGowan 4-69, Carson Rucker 3-45, Andrew Platter 3-37, Matt Savis 2-11, Hunter Hopkins 1-5.