Late-Game Heroics Send Chapel Hill Past Henderson + to Brink of Playoff Berth
[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]
NEW CHAPEL HILL -- Jaylon Redwine made just one catch Friday night, but it was a big one.
Redwine hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Konnor Hitchcock with 58 seconds remaining, and Austyn Fendrick’s ensuing extra point gave Chapel Hill a come-from-behind 28-27 victory over the Henderson Lions, propelling the Bulldogs to the inside track for the fourth and final playoff spot from District 9-4A Division I.
The loss could potentially end a promising season for the Lions (6-3, 1-3), who started 5-0 but have lost three of four.
On the other hand, Friday's win may possibly put a Chapel Hill (3-6, 2-2) squad that started the season 1-5 into the playoffs.
“We’ve had a hard season,” Sitton said. “We’ve had a lot of ups, but mostly downs. The thing I’m so proud of is the kids kept working, kept pushing, kept fighting. We’ve found a way to possibly get in. The best thing about the playoffs is you never can tell what will happen. Good things can happen for us.”
Henderson’s last-ditch effort went backwards and on fourth-and-17 as Decorian Horton sacked Trae Hall, sealing the deal.
Redwine’s heroics capped a crazy final quarter.
On the quarter's opening play, Chapel Hill's Reggie King scored from a yard out on fourth-and-goal after it appeared the Bulldogs had scored on the previous play. The referee signaled for a score, but it was moved back to the half-yard line following a conference among the officials.
King’s score tied the game at 21-21.
After a Henderson punt, the Bulldogs' drive, which reached the Lions' 35-yard line, stalled and Hitchcock's pass on fourth-and-5 was intercepted by Cadarius Caldwell and returned 46 yards to the Chapel Hill 9-yard line. A penalty after the play moved the ball back to the 24.
Henderson quarterback Matthew Childers converted a fourth-and-1 with a 4-yard carry, and appeared to get in on a sneak at the 1-yard line three plays later.
However, Chapel HIll's Deundre Phillips met him at the goal line and knocked the ball loose. Phillips picked it up and returning it 100 yards before the referees signaled that Childers had in fact scored to give the Lions a 27-21 lead.
The extra point failed on a bad snap for the second time on the night, a play that turned out to be the difference.
Hitchcock and company started their game winning drive at their own 33-yard line, and converted a third-and-4 with a 9-yard pass to Zack Walters.
Two plays later, Caldwell sacked Hitchcock for a 13-yard loss but was flagged for a facemask at the conclusion of the tackle.
With the ball moved across midfield, Hitchcock and Walters combined to move the chains again with a 17-yard play.
After an incompletion, Hitchcock hit Redwine up the sideline in stride for the 30-yard score. Fendrick tacked on the all-important extra point to provide the winning margin.
“So proud that we got it done,” said Chapel Hill coach Thomas Sitton. “We fought through some adversity throughout the whole game, had a lot of ups and downs, and our kids just kept battling. The character they showed tonight was unbelievable.”
Hitchcock, making his first appearance since a Week 1 injury against Lindale, finished the night completing 15 of 27 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Walters caught eight passes for 109 yards and two scores, while King added five catches for 43 yards and a rushing TD.
“It’s good to have him (Hitchcock) back,” Sitton said. “He’s such a good leader and worker. He throws as good a ball as anybody. He just did a great job of stepping up, especially that final drive. Marching us down the field, and Jaylon Redwine made an unbelievable catch.”
Kenyotta Henderson led the way on the ground for the Bulldogs, picking up 85 yards on 18 carries.
The Lions managed to lead at the break and took another lead late in the third quarter.
Childers led a seven-play, 75-yard drive that all came on the ground, with runs of 11, 9, 2 and 19 yards, setting up J.T. Boone for a 32-yard run to 1. Childers punched it in on the next play. However, the kick failed after a bad snap, leaving the the Lions with a 21-14 lead.
Childers sparked a valiant effort for the Lions, who played without standouts Lakendrick VanZandt and Tresten Ebner, by running for 165 yards and three scores. Boone added 104 yards on just nine carries, while Lynn Freeney finished with 47 yards and a score on five carries.
The Lions hit the ground running early on, establishing the running game from the start.
Freeney took the game's second carry 13 yards, and Childers did the rest, connecting with Tariq Gray for 22 yards to the Bulldogs' 36-yard line. He kept it the next two plays, going for 8, and completing the drive with a 28-yard carry to the end zone. Childers tacked on the two-point conversion on a keeper to give Henderson an 8-0 lead.
After a disastrous opening drive by Hitchcock and the offense, one which saw Chapel Hill go back 19 yards on two bad snaps, the Bulldogs were more effective on their second possession.
Hitchcock and Walters connected for 17 and 21 yards to move the chains to the Lions' 44-yard line. After King converted a third-and-2, Henderson took it 23 yards to the 10-yard line. Hitchcock rolled out and found Walters for a 6-yard score on third-and goal, cutting the deficit to 8-7 early in the second quarter.
It took less than three minutes for the Lions to get back on the scoreboard, once again with a heavy dose of the run game.
Freeney runs of 9 and 6 yards and a 23-yarder from Childers quickly moved the ball to the Bulldogs' 25-yard line. Childers added 6 more on second-and-10, and Freeney scored from 19 yards out to cap the six-play 63 yard drive, moving the Henderson lead to 15-7.
After a quick three-and-out, the Chapel Hill defense forced a key turnover.
Marquis Massenburge popped Childers on a keeper, forcing a fumble that Cale Caruthers scooped up at the Lions' 14-yard line. It took just two plays for the Bulldogs to score, as Hitchcock once again found Walters on a rollout for the 14-yard score. Fendrick tacked on the extra point for the 15-14 halftime deficit.
Chapel Hill 28, Henderson 27
At Bulldog Stadium, New Chapel Hill
Henderson 8 7 6 6 -- 27
Chapel Hill 0 14 0 14 -- 28
HEN--Matthew Childers 28 run (Childers run), 10:11.
CH--Zack Walters 6 pass from Konnor Hitchcock (Austyn Fendrick kick), 11:53.
HEN--Lynn Freeney 19 run (Julio Cervantes kick), 8:58.
CH--Walters 14 pass from Hitchcock (Fendrick kick), 7:20.
HEN--Childers 1 run (kick failed), 3:14.
CH--Reggie King 1 run (Fendrick kick), 11:55.
HEN--Childers 1 run (kick failed), 2:18.
CH--Jaylon Redwine 30 pass from Hitchcock (Fendrick kick), :58.
First Downs 14 14
Total Yards 381 303
Rushes-Yards 40-315 27-77
Passing Yards 66 226
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-9-0 15-27-2
Punts-Avg. 5-36.0 5-39.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 13-110 6-50
RUSHING--Henderson, Matthew Childers 30-165, J.T. Boone 9-104, Lynn Freeney 5-47, Jaxon Goode 1-(-1). Chapel Hill, Kenyotta Henderson 18-85, Reggie King 6-16, Deandre Hordge 3-5, Konnor Hitchcock 3-(-29).
PASSING--Henderson, Trae Hall 2-3-0--38, Childers 2-6-0--28. Chapel Hill, Hitchcock 15-27-2--226.
RECEIVING--Henderson, Tariq Gray 2-26, Childers 1-34, Goode 1-6. Chapel Hill, Zack Walters 8-109, King 5-43, Marcos Calderon 1-44, Jaylon Redwine 1-30.