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College Football: Henderson State hosts St. Cloud State

Henderson State will play host to St. Cloud State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Football Championships, Saturday at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium beginning at noon.

The game will be live on the Internet at hsusports.com.

The Reddies, 11-0 on the season, will attempt to win 12 games in a season for the first time in school history. Only two other Henderson State teams have won 11 games, the 1974 Reddies ended the year 11-2 while the 1975 Henderson State team was 11-1.

St. Cloud State, 10-1 on the season, are members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Huskies finished second in the NSIC North Division with a 6-1 record. Their lone loss was a 34-7 setback to Minnesota Duluth. St. Cloud State makes its fifth appearance in the championships. The Huskies last appeared in 2011 win they lost an opening round game to Wayne State 48-38.

Henderson State makes its second-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs since joining the NCAA in 1993.

The Reddies appeared in the playoffs for the first time last year when they earned a bye in the first round in 2012 and played host to Missouri Western in the second round. The Reddies lost to the Griffons 45-21.

Henderson State first appeared in a post-season playoff game in 1974 when the Reddies played in the NAIA playoffs. The Reddies defeated Elon 21-7 in the opening round game, but lost in the NAIA National Championship to Texas A&M Commerce (formerly Texas A&I) 34-23.

In 1985, the Reddies opened the NAIA playoffs with an 18-15 win over Central State (Oklahoma), before losing in the semifinals to Central Arkansas 21-9.

Henderson’s only other post-season event was in 1975 when the Reddies faced East Central (Oklahoma) in the Bicentennial Bowl at War Memorial Stadium. The Reddies won the game 27-14.

St. Cloud State, ranked 12th nationally, enters the postseason with a 10-1 record following its 64-27 win over Minnesota State-Moorhead.

The Husky offense averages 39.6 points and 459.5 yards of total offense per game.

St. Cloud State features Harlon Hill candidate Phillip Klaphake. The senior quarterback has completed 192-of-318 passes for 2,787 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Klaphake surpassed the 10,000 yard career passing mark, becoming only the third quarterback in Division II history to do so. Klaphake is also a threat to run the football having 486 yards on 107 rushes and 8 touchdowns.

Michael Walker leads St. Cloud in rushing having carried the ball 146 times for 699 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Much like Henderson, the Huskies are deep at the receiver position with 10 receivers having 100 or more receiving yards.

Damon Treat leads the receiving corps with 41 catches for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns, while teammate Dan Brown has 21 catches for 378 yards and 7 scores.

St. Cloud has one of the best defenses in the country allowing just 16.1 points and 314.4 yards per game.

Defensive back Eric Poggenburg leads the Husky defense having 80 total tackles including 10 tackles for lost yardage and five interceptions. Defensive back Jack Moro follows with 75 tackles and 7 picks.

Henderson State, back-to-back champions of the Great American Conference Championship, is coming off a thrilling 60-52 triple-overtime win against Ouachita Baptist in the 87th meeting of the Battle of the Ravine.

Henderson’s offense averages a national best 572.5 yards and 54.9 points per game. Henderson also averages 415.8 yards passing per game.

Kevin Rodgers averages 385.0 yards passing per game and has tossed 36 touchdowns. Rodgers, the GAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second time, has completed a GAC record 281-of-413 passes for 4,240 yards and 36 touchdowns. The Rockwall, Texas, product has a record of 25-2 as Henderson’s starting quarterback. Darius Davis ranks 10th nationally in receiving yards per game averaging 125.8 yards per game. The junior from Frisco, Texas, has caught 65 passes for 1,384 yards and has scored 14 touchdowns ranks eighth nationally.

Dustin Holland follows, averaging 57.7 yards receiving per game. Holland has caught 46 passes for 635 yards.

The Reddie defense allows 333.8 yards per contest while limiting their opponents to 22.5 points per game.

Keaton Stigger leads the GAC with 120 stops including 11.5 for lost yardage.

The GAC Defensive Player of the Year has also played offense carrying the ball 28 times and has scored 14 touchdowns. Ricardo Mendez follows Stigger with 81 tackles and has 6.5 tackles for lost yardage.

Corey Chappell is HSU’s top kick returner averaging 28.8 yards per return. Chappell set a GAC and HSU record with a 100-yard kick return against Harding.

For the second year, Henderson dominated the All-GAC Team with 16 players earning a spot on this year’s list.

Repeating as the GAC Coach of the Year was Scott Maxfield, while Rodgers was unanimously selected as the GAC Offensive Player of the Year.

For the second consecutive year a Reddie was also named GAC Defensive Player of the Year as Stigger earned this year’s honor.

In addition to Rodgers and Stigger, six other Reddies were named to the All-GAC First-Team including wide receivers Davis and Robert Jordan, defensive end Glennon Bobo, and offensive lineman Kelton Hays, Doug Despain and Ricky Gonzales.

On the GAC Second-Team were offensive lineman RJ Taylor, Nick Siedelhofer, Tim Llewellyn, Christian Love, Charles Gonsalves and Al Lasker.

Two Reddies had honorable mention selections including linebacker Ricardo Mendez and corner back Vince Thompson.

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