HUMBLE - Henderson’s defense got its biggest stop of the night with one second showing before halftime.
They carried into the second half.
In a top-10 matchup, Henderson upended El Campo, 29-15, on Friday night in a Class 4A, Division I area playoff at Humble ISD’s Turner Stadium.
With the win, Henderson, ranked 10th in the final AP poll of the season, advances to 11-1 on the season and will have a rematch with District 9-4A foe Carthage, a 41-6 winner over North Forest on Friday night, in the regional semifinal round. Henderson won the first meeting, 36-28.
The Carthage vs. Henderson contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Lobo Stadium in Longview.
El Campo, entering Friday night unblemished at No. 8 in Class 4A, concludes its season at 11-1.
After exchanging touchdowns in the first half, Henderson’s secondary made a play to keep an El Campo receiver out of the end zone. With one second showing, the intermission buzzer sounded as the Lion defense stuffed a run up the middle for a no-gain and a 22-15 lead at halftime.
El Campo hit the ground from the start, chewing up the clock on long possessions, including drives of 6:27 and 5:57. The Ricebirds finished with 182 of its 249 yards in the first half, totaling 230 yards on 60 carries.
“Those guys just played with such heart against a good, physical offensive line from El Campo, probably one of the best we’ve seen,” Henderson coach Phil Castles said of his defense. “To end the first half like that and it carried over into the second.
“They lined up over and over and over against those shows, showed the resolve and got after it.”
Meanwhile, the Lion offense turned used its big-play ability to match the defense.
Lakendrick Van Zandt totaled three scores on the night, rushing for a pair and hauling in one score from quarterback Trae Hall. Van Zandt finished with 180 yards of total offense, 143 coming on 16 carries, and added a late-game interception.
Hall turned in a triple-digit night on the ground as well, finishing with 123 yards on nine carries.
Trestan Ebner picked off El Campo’s first pass attempt of the game and returned it 39 yards to the house to put Henderson ahead for good.
For El Campo, junior Nery Enriquez finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Quarterback Brock Brandl added 58 and Deaderick Hollaway finished with 42 for the Ricebirds.
Henderson opened the night on a six-play, 75-yard drive with Hall notching runs of six, right and nine yards. He had a 12-yard strike over the middle to Childers.
Van Zandt’s first run of the night went for 26 yards before his 13-yard touchdown run put the Lions on the board first. Van Zandt punched in the two-point play.
El Campo responded, not quickly, but by chewing up 6:27 off the clock on a 15-play, 66-yard march capped with a two-yard punch-in from Enriquez and ensuing two-point run from Brandl. The Ricebirds converted three third downs on thedrive and finished with a 10-for-16 conversion rate on third down.
Henderson ran into disaster to end the first quarter, dropping 11 yards on a trick play before a punt into stiff winds resulted in a 10-yard loss.
El Campo went right back on the march, picking up two third downs with Enriquez punching in his second score from two yards out for a 15-8 Ricebird lead.
That would be it for the Ricebird offense.
Hall connected with Van Zandt for a 26-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Three players later, on El Campo’s first pass attempt, Ebner leaped and housed it from 39 yards away.
El Campo completed its first pass inside the final 10 seconds of the half but the receiver did not cross the goal line, resulting in a first down with one second left. Henderson’s defense fit the bill.
After driving for 5:57, El Campo turned the ball over on downs to start the second half and the Lion defense followed with a three-and-out.
After picking up a third down, Van Zandt raced 27 yards down the visiting sidelines for a 27-yard score with 8:37 left for the 29-15 final.