HENDERSON — Del Barnes threw for 321 yards and five touchdowns as No. 3-ranked Henderson defeated Liberty-Eylau 56-13 before a partisan homecoming crowd Friday night at Lion Stadium.
Barnes, the senior quarterback who guided Henderson to the Class 3A Division I state championship last season and set a school record for passing yardage a couple of weeks ago, has steadily gained state-wide attention with his prolific passing numbers. He threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns in the first half against Liberty-Eylau.
Henderson has won 11 in a row and carries an unblemished 5-0 record into its bye week before opening the District 16-3A race against Spring Hill. The loss meanwhile dropped Liberty-Eylau to 2-3.
After its bye week, which is also next week, the Leopards open the District 15-3A race against Paris.
Barnes’ scoring strikes in the first half covered 30 yards to LaMarcus Brown, 31 to Jay O’Neal, 29 to Nathan Brewer and 1 to Patrick Brown. In the third quarter, he added a 29-yard scoring toss to Brewer, equaling his five touchdown performance against Kilgore two weeks ago.
The Lions would add a couple of other touchdowns before the third quarter expired and Barnes exited the contest. They came on a 12-yard fumble recovery return by Trey Jones with 3:19 left in the period and a 60-yard punt return by Patrick Brown with 30 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Liberty-Eylau scored on its first possession of the second half as Rashaan Donelson hooked up with Jarrion Lawson on a 68-yard completion with 10:15 to play in the third quarter to momentarily cut the Lions’ advantage to 22, 35-13.
Henderson finished with a decisive edge in total yardage, 407-138. The Lions’ defense was almost as efficient as Barnes, holding the visiting Leopards to 29 rushing yards and continually pressured Donelson.
Donelson completed 5 of 9 passes for 109 yards.
Barnes was 25 of 31 passing before giving way to backup quarterback Janson Moore.
The Lions took the opening kickoff, using a 43-yard return by O’Neal, and went to work, marching 35 yards in 48 seconds to a quick 7-0 lead.
Liberty-Eylau, which played Gilmer to within two touchdowns a week ago, answered with a 13-play, 59-yard drive. A 16-yard Donelson completion to sophomore wide receiver Davion Hall tied the score with 4:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Henderson came right back, though, going 70-yards in four plays.
to regain the lead, 14-7, with 3:30 left in the first period. From there the Lions never looked back.
Henderson wide receiver LaMarcus Brown led all receivers with 10 receptions for 110 yards.
Barnes came into the contest with 1,096 yards passing and 13 touchdowns.