After a 53-year hiatus, the Hendrix College football team resumed play with a last-second 46-44 win over Westminster College at Young-Wise Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Trailing by one, freshman kicker Steve Crenshaw booted a 25-yard field goal through the uprights with one second remaining in the game to give the Warriors their first victory since the program's last game in 1960.
In front of a raucous crowd of 2,942 fans, Hendrix took the opening kickoff and turned the ball over two plays later after a nine-yard sack and an interception by Blue Jay linebacker Josh Bromberg. Westminster tailback Ronnie Seals Jr. rushed for 26 yards then punched it in from the two for the first score of the game.
The young Warriors, under head coach Justin "Buck" Buchanan, marched the ball 88 yards over nine plays, capped by a nine yard touchdown pass from Seth Peters to Travus McMahon to tie it up with 9:43 left in the opening quarter. Peters found McMahon for a 45-yard pass to set up aÂ five yard rushing TD by running back Thomas Weissert to put Hendrix up 14-7 at the 3:31 mark.
The Blue Jays scored on back-to-back drives to open the second quarter, but Peters answered with a 44-yard pass to junior receiver Casey Caton to tie the game back up at 21-21. Westminster regained the lead, which stood at halftime, when reserve quarterback Justin Billiot broke through for a 73-yard run.
The Blue Jays went up by two scores by eating four minutes off the clock on a 11-play, 70-yard drive and Seals Jr. scoring on a one-yard rush. After a three-and-out series for Hendrix, Billiot turned the ball over when cornerback Mac Adkins forced and recovered a fumble with 9:43 left in the third quarter. Freshman tailback Dayton Winn opened the drive with a 55-yard run, but the Warriors had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Crenshaw to cut the deficit to 35-24.
Two plays into Westminster's next drive, starting quarterback Joe Plassmeyer completed a pass to Mike Washington, but nose guard Stephen Stearman caused Washington to fumble and the ball was picked up by redshirt freshman safety Caleb Shannon for a 33-yard return to the Blue Jay 16. After a personal foul on the play, Hendrix had the ball at the eight and scored on a one-yard pass to tight end Doug Phillips. On their next drive, the Black & Orange drove 82 yards and capped the series with a 22-yard pass to Caleb Brake, going up 36-35. The Warriors' two-point conversion attempt was batted down.
Winn, from Pea Ridge, Ark., scatted 25 yards to give Hendrix a 43-35 advantage with 12:38 to play. On the next drive, Bromberg came up with his second interception of the game and returned it for a 39-yard touchdown. The Blue Jays took a 44-43 lead with 3:52 remaining on a 28-yard field goal from Kevin Ludwig.
The Warriors took 15 plays and went 67 yards before Crenshaw hit the game-winning field goal. Winn had runs of 22 and 20 yards in the game-winning drive.
As a team, Hendrix ran 87 plays for 538 yards, while Westminster had 61 plays and 410 yards. Both teams committed three turnovers, but penalties cost the Blue Jays who committed 12 for 90 yards, while the Warriors were penalized six times for 51 yards. Hendrix also made 28 first downs, including six via penalty.
Winn ran 20 times for 146 yards and a touchdown, plus had three catches for 32 yards. Weissert ran 11 times for 58 yards. Peters went 25-for-40 for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Caton had eight catches for 146 yards and a score.
Crenshaw was 4-for-5 on extra point attempts and 2-for-2 in field goals. Cunningham made 10 tackles on defense with a sack, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Corner Matt Ramirez came up with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo and Shannon made eight tackles as well. Stearman came up with seven tackles, 1.5 for a loss.
Seals Jr. rushed 19 times for 100 yards and two TDS for the Blue Jays. Plassmeyer was 17-for-27 with 194 yards and a TD. Louvis Johnson led the defense with 12 tackles and Brett Carrigan had 10 tackles, six for a loss, and 3.5 sacks.
Hendrix will open Southern Athletic Association play when they play at Birmingham-Southern College on Saturday, Sept. 14.