MESQUITE — With a “District of Doom” showdown looming in the state quarterfinals, Henderson’s ground game had the Wright stuff.
In a memorable postseason performance, senior running back Diamante Wright recorded a career-high 296 yards and three touchdowns to help lead the Lions past Celina, 64-35, in the Class 3A Division II regional playoffs Friday night at E.H. Hanby Stadium.
Wright scored all three touchdowns in the second half, during which Henderson scored 48 points to eliminate the eight-time state champion Bobcats (10-3) from the playoffs in convincing fashion for the second straight season.
And with the victory, Henderson (9-4) advances to meet District 16-3A rival Gilmer (12-1) in the state quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Longview’s Lobo Stadium. It will be the second matchup between the teams at Lobo this season; the first having gone to the Buckeyes in 28-26 fashion in late September, a game in which Henderson had multiple touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Wright, who turned in a previous career high of 198 yards in the playoff opener against Van, forced his way through the defense from the start en route to finishing the night with 30 carries. The bruising and yet elusive back scored on runs of 44, 8 and 9 yards within a seven-minute stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters.
But despite his effort, Lions quarterback Patrick Brown produced the most touchdowns — five — to end the night with 19 carries for 136 yards. The senior star scored from 6 and 14 yards away as Henderson went into the break down 20-16, but then added 16-, 34- and 1-yard touchdowns in a dominant final two quarters.
Wright and Brown benefitted from good field position, thanks to the Lions beginning six of their eight second-half drives in Bobcats territory. The Lions started one drive at Celina’s 1-yard line following an onside kick return by senior Kenny McCown, who also returned an interception 87 yards to the house with 5:35 remaining for the Lions’ final TD.
All told, Henderson ran for more than 400 yards as a team.
Celina junior running back Deshawn Davis carried the ball 13 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns, which were from 60 and 72 yards away.
Celina went into the break ahead 20-16 to cap a back-and-forth opening half, which featured 30 points in the first quarter and almost 400 combined rushing yards. Sophomore running back Cash Conder gave the Bobcats the four-point lead on a 3-yard run with 6:27 left in the half, capping a drive that started at Henderson’s 36 after a Bobcats TD punt return was called back because of an illegal block.
The second quarter featured much more defense than the first, during which Henderson scored three times to take a 16-14 lead into the second. Brown accounted for both Lions’ scores in the quarter, thanks to runs of 6 and 14 yards.
But Wright was the one who moved the ball downfield for Henderson, evidenced by his 13 carries for 127 yards.
Davis had seven carries for 92 yards to lead Celina in the half.
Class 3A Division II Regional Playoff
Henderson 64, Celina 35
At E.H. Hanby Stadium, Mesquite
Henderson 16 0 27 21 64
Celina 14 6 7 8 35
HEN — FG William Mann 26, 5:37
CEL — Nathan Elliot 29 run (kick failed), 4:14
HEN — Patrick Brown 6 run (Mann kick), 2:01
CEL — Deshawn Davis 60 run (Elliot run), 1:26
HEN — Brown 14 run (kick blocked), :42
CEL — Cash Conder 3 run (run failed), 6:27
HEN — Brown 16 run (kick failed), 7:37
HEN — Brown 34 run (Mann kick), 5:35
CEL — Davis 72 run (Fabian Aguirre), 5:17
HEN — Diamante Wright 44 run (Mann kick), 5:01
HEN — Wright 8 run (Mann kick), :35
HEN — Wright 9 run (Mann kick), 9:49
CEL — Ben Thiel 25 pass from Nathan Elliott (Blake Pasqua pass from Elliott), 8:37
HEN — Brown 1 run (Mann kick), 8:26
HEN — Kenny McCown 87 interception return (Mann kick), 5:35
First Downs 19 18
Rushes-Yards 51-425 29-275
Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-5-0 14-25-2
Passing Yards 8 168
Penalties-Yards 4-45 10-71
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Punts-Avg. 3-38 5-29.8
RUSHING — Henderson, Diamante Wright, 30-296, Patrick Brow 19-136, Jamal Kind 1-1, Randy Davis 2-(-4), Zedrick Lester 1-(-4). Celina, Deshawn Davis 13-171, Connor Torbert 7-58, Nathan Elliot 7-40, Cash Conder 1-7, Ben Thiel 1-(-1).
PASSING — Henderson, Brown 2-5-0—8. Celina, Elliott 14-25-2—168.
RECEIVING — Henderson, Tre’ Hollins 1-9, Wright 1-(-1). Celina, Torbert 5-30, Thiel 4-89, Conder 2-10, Braylin Brown 1-31, Davis 1-15, Willie Sims 1-8.