Football wins in exciting fashion during Homecoming day

No.+5+Zach+Nadle+and+no.+16+Ben+Watson+try+to+steal+the+ball+from+senior+Erik+Henneman+who+successfully+completed+the+touchdown+against+Truman+State+during+Homecoming+Day+at+Harlen+C.+Hunter+Stadium+%3Cbr%2F%3E+Photo+by+Caleb+Riordan.+
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Football wins in exciting fashion during Homecoming day

No. 5 Zach Nadle and no. 16 Ben Watson try to steal the ball from senior Erik Henneman who successfully completed the touchdown against Truman State during Homecoming Day at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium  Photo by Caleb Riordan.

No. 5 Zach Nadle and no. 16 Ben Watson try to steal the ball from senior Erik Henneman who successfully completed the touchdown against Truman State during Homecoming Day at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium
Photo by Caleb Riordan.

No. 5 Zach Nadle and no. 16 Ben Watson try to steal the ball from senior Erik Henneman who successfully completed the touchdown against Truman State during Homecoming Day at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium
Photo by Caleb Riordan.

No. 5 Zach Nadle and no. 16 Ben Watson try to steal the ball from senior Erik Henneman who successfully completed the touchdown against Truman State during Homecoming Day at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium
Photo by Caleb Riordan.

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CALEB RIORDAN | Reporter

Lindenwood overcame a 24-7 fourth-quarter deficit to win its homecoming game against Truman State University on Saturday, 28-24. 

The Lions came into the game looking to stay undefeated in the Great Lakes Valley Conference after successfully defeating McKendree, and the Bulldogs were 5-0 and coming off of two monster wins in which they scored 50 or more, promising to be an exciting encounter. 

On the opening kickoff, the Lions tried to hand the ball off and swing the return to the other side of the field. The handoff was not clean and caused the Lions to fumble deep in their own territory. They recovered the fumble and went 3-and-out on their first drive. 

Neither team could get anything going in the first quarter. It was a quarter full of punts and penalties. The score stayed knotted at zero into the second quarter.

The Lions stood strong on the Bulldogs first drive of the quarter and forced a punt. However, the Lions roughed the kicker on the punt and gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs and new life to the drive. A 20-yard pass to the wide-open junior tight end Jake Ellis set up the Bulldogs first-and-goal from the 5-yard line. That set up an eventual 1-yard touchdown run by running back Jordan Salima for the first score of the day. The extra point gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with about eight minutes to go in the first half. 

With 2:44 to go in the half, the Bulldogs marched down the field with ease. Truman State ended an 11 play, 81-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown on the ground by Salima to extend the lead to 14-0, Salima’s second of the game. The Bulldogs were set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half with a two-touchdown lead. 

The Lions were only able to put together 77 yards of total offense while punting the ball away six times, 66 of which came in the first quarter. 

The action picked up in the second half. The Bulldogs first drive ended in a field goal to extend the lead 17-0. 

The Lions fired back with a 6 play, 65-yard possession that ended in a 1-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Cade Brister to senior tight end Erik Henneman. The Lions first score of the day put them closer to the Bulldogs, 17-7.  

The Lions forced a stop on the Bulldogs next possession and got right back to work on offense. Brister was feeding Henneman while marching down the field in what felt like a drive that could see the Lions snatch the momentum. Right as the Lions reached Bulldogs territory, Brister was forced to scramble out of the pocket due to pressure and lost a fumble with under a minute to go in the third quarter. The Bulldogs held the lead going into the fourth quarter with the ball. 

The Bulldogs finished off its first possession of the fourth quarter with a 16-yard touchdown run from the quarterback to extend the lead 24-7. 

The Lions offense pressed on. A 21-yard touchdown pass from Brister to sophomore Payton Rose capped off an 8 play, 61-yard drive, but still trailed 24-14. 

The Lions defense allowed just 7 yards on the Bulldogs next possession and forced a punt. The Lions got the ball back down two touchdowns with 8:11 left in the game. 

Two costly penalties by the Bulldogs and the Lions offense found its way into the red zone. Brister threw a pass to the corner of the endzone to Henneman but was picked off by the Bulldog defense. The Bulldogs took the ball back with 5:42 left in the game.

Again, the Lindenwood defense held strong as the Bulldogs attempted to run time off the clock. The Lions offense was able to get the ball back with just 3:22 left in the game. 

Lindenwood again found its way into the red zone. This time, Brister threw up a 50/50 ball to Erik Henneman in the corner of the endzone and Henneman came down with it. The touchdown cut the lead 24-21. 

With 1:16 left and down 3 points, Lindenwood attempted an onside kick. Senior kicker Brett Garner struck a ball that bounced favorably. Out of all players, junior punter Jared Stangler recovered the kick and injected life into the Lions. 

The Lions took the ball back with 1:11 to go with a chance to complete the comeback. 

With 40 seconds left, the Lions were in a fourth-and-four situation with the game on the line. Brister fired a pass to Henneman for 6 yards and the first down. A few plays later, Brister fired a 21-yard pass to Rose, who was then tackled at the 1-yard line. The Lions then called a timeout with 14 seconds left in the game.

Out of the timeout, Brister floated a pass to the back of the endzone that was caught by Henneman, but he was unable to bring it down inbounds. The very next play Brister targeted Henneman again.

This time, the crowd erupted as Henneman came down with it. Lindenwood kicked the extra point to steal a win in its homecoming game.

“That ranks up probably one of the top two best games ever as a coach,” head coach Jed Stugart said. “We finally got one of these [close games]. We’ve been so close on some of these but to finally get one over the top is what we needed, and hopefully, we can build on this and kind of get a little momentum going.”

An exhilarated Henneman expressed his emotions after completing the winning touchdown.

“A lot of emotions man, a lot of emotions, I’m just thankful at the end of the day,” Henneman said. “I’m thankful that God put me in a position to be here for this team and to contribute how I can.” 

Brister finished his day with 329 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. After being held to one catch in the first half, Henneman finished with 11 catches, 64 yards and 3 touchdowns. Juniors Drew Seers, Grady Daniels and Andrew Rodriguez all finished with 11 tackles to lead the team. 

The win brings the Lions record to 3-3 and 3-0 in the GLVC. Next, the Lions stay home to take on Saginaw Valley State University Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.