DURANT, Okla. – No. 19 Southeastern saw its undefeated season and 10-game home winning streak come to an end on Saturday as Henderson State stole a 21-20 decision at Paul Laird Field.
The Savage Storm slip to 6-1 overall on the season and in Great American Conference play and maintain the lead by themselves atop the league standings, but have that advantage trimmed to a single game over second place.
"Hats off to them," said head coach Bo Atterberry. "They found a way to finish it. The momentum was in their favor and we wasted some timeouts that I wish we had back. But there are so many plays out there that you can't place it on one. It starts with me. We have to do a better job and there are still several games left and a lot to play for. We have to keep our head up and take our hats off to Henderson for coming in here and playing a good football game."
"We have to keep our heads up," he continued, "Correct some mistakes and get ready. There is still a lot to play for and we're very blessed to be doing what we're doing. Henderson beat us today, but if we dwell on that, it will be ugly, but if we don't, we've got a chance."
Despite a solid first quarter the SE offense struggled as it finished with a season-low output of 277 total yards, rushing for 113 and passing for 164.
Conversely the defense forced three turnovers and logged three sacks, and held HSU to 397 total yards, including just 40 on the ground.
Austin Skinner finished the contest 130of027 passing for 164 yards, with his top target being Jaylen Sims who finished with 81 yards on six catches.
Rashod Polk turned in 48 yards rushing on 21 carries with a pair of touchdowns, while Ryan Taylor had 50 yards on three totes with the longest run of any back on the day at 44 yards.
Seu Luafatasaga led all defenders with 11 tackles and a forced fumble on the afternoon, while Hunter Powell was next in line with eight.
Troy Parker registered a fumble recovery, while Justin Young and Larry Bridges each had interceptions.
On special teams Joel Carlos hit a pair of 36 yard field goals and moved into a tie with Milan Smado for the most career field goals made with 34.
Southeastern ended HSU's first drive when Luafatasaga forced a fumble which was recovered by Parker at the Storm 49 yard line.
SE followed with a six play drive that was capped by a Polk two yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
Justin Young ended the next Reddie drive three plays in with an interception and the Storm would cap the ensuing drive with a 36 yard Joel Carlos field goal for a 10-0 lead.
SE would force a punt on the next HSU drive and follow up with an eight-play, 81 yard scoring drive capped by a Polk one yard score for a 17-0 lead with 1:33 to go in the opening quarter.
After trading scoreless drives it was the Reddies turn to get on the board as they marched to the SE four yard line before the Storm defense forced them into a 21 yard Julio Cervantes field goal to maintain a 17-3 lead at the 8:02 mark of the second quarter.
SE would take a 17-3 lead to the break at halftime, but it was HSU who would score first in the second half, first with a 22 yard Cervantes field goal at the 11:56 mark and later in the third at the 3:11 mark when Evan Lassiter connected with Austin Bennet for an 11 yard score and tacked on a two-point conversion to cut the Storm lead to 17-14.
That lead held until the 14:02 mark of the fourth quarter when the Reddies capped a seven play, 42-yard drive with a one-yard Blake Faulk touchdown run to take the lead at 21-17.
The Storm responded with points on its next drive, needing a 28 yard third-and-long pickup from Skinner to Skye Lowe which would ultimately lead to another 36 yard Carlos field goal to close the deficit to 21-20 with 10:28 to play.
Southeastern would get a stop on HSU's ensuing drive, but was unable to capitalize on its drive which would prove to be its final possession as the Reddies would get the ball back with 7:21 to play and run out the clock.