Despite making a few mistakes and with a bunch of new schemes and personnel in their season opener, the Hendrix College Warriors’ 56-28 win Saturday night over Lyon College was never in doubt.
The Warriors started exciting the crowd under the lights at Young-Wise Memorial Stadium with a 34-yard touchdown run on a reverse by senior wide receiver Ben Luedtke. This was the first of three touchdowns in three different ways for Luedtke on the night.
After getting short field at its 38, Hendrix sophomore quarterback Miles Thompson connected with Luedtke for a 26-yard touchdown pass, making the score 14-0 after a converted extra point.Luedtke scored a third different way on the opening kick after halftime, when he returned the kick 95-yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 35-7.
"We flick it to Ben and he breaks a couple tackles and goes for six," Warriors coach Buck Buchanan said. "He’s one of the fastest guys that will be on the field every time we play. The kickoff return after halftime almost iced it, but we let them back in it."
After senior running back Mason Millsap ran 80 yards for a Hendrix touchdown, Lyon (1-1) started storming back, scoring 21 unanswered points. Fourteen of those points were set up because by interceptions.
Thompson was intercepted first by junior defensive back Xavier Story for a 60-yard touchdown. The Scots’ final score was set up by an interception when freshman defensive back Kameron Collins picked off Thompson, setting up Lyon at the Hendrix 23-. A few plays later, senior running back Joe Mahe ran 2 yards for the final Scots touchdown, bringing the score to 42-28.
From there, the Warriors scored two more touchdowns,icing the game.
Buchanan said Lyon will have a great team this season and made the proper adjustments to the young Hendrix team.
"I think they’re biggest adjustment was to bring everybody and try to make a play," he said. "They did a couple times because we held the ball a little too long. We have to do a better job of getting out of those plays and making quicker reads.
"Offensively, they did a good job of trying to keep the ball away from us, and switching up the quarterback runs. [Senior tight end Jonathan] Hendrix is a great player, and he made some really great catches over the middle. We didn’t do a good job at the second level of banging those guys. They were throwing it up, and Hendrix would make a great catch. He’ll make a lot of great plays this year, and hopefully, he’ll be an NAIA All-American. He’s a great player and great person. We recruited him to play for us."
Despite the two interceptions, Thompson completded 27 of 35 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns.
"He stepped up and made the plays," Buchanan said. "It’s his first game as the real, fulltime starter. They did some things that they didn’t do last year and we didn’t have the opportunity to practice against.
"He held the ball a little too long at times, but we can make a lot of progress from week one to week two. He’s got a great arm and great release. Unfortunately, one of those tipped balls being a pick-six and that’s unfortunate. The other interception was on something we didn’t do all week, so there was some miscommunication. We have to solve those mental mistakes."
Luedtke finished with four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, 34 rushing yards and a touchdown, and accounted for 164 kick return yards, with a 95-yard kick return.
Millsap ran for 172 yards and one touchdown on 11 attempts. He also had 33 yards receiving and one touchdown on five receptions.
Senior wide receiver Nate Hodapp finished with 141 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions.
The Warriors try for their second win at 6 p.m. Saturday at home against Texas Lutheran.