ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (HSU) -- Henderson State's record-breaking season came to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon as Missouri Western beat the Reddies 45-21 in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs on Ruggles Field at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia, Ark.
The Reddies, who were the undefeated regular-season Great American Conference champions, ends the year with a 10-1 record, while Missouri Western, champions of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, improves to 12-1 and will advance to the quarterfinals to play Minnesota State-Mankato next week.
"We played an outstanding football team in Missouri Western," said Henderson State coach Scott Maxfield. "We made several uncharacteristic mistakes that we didn't make in the previous 10 games and they benefited from those mistakes."
Missouri Western's defense was opportunistic as they picked off Reddie quarterback Kevin Rodgers four times and also had eight pass deflections at the line of scrimmage to keep the Henderson State offense from getting into any rhythm.
"When you get to this level, you have to execute and not make mistakes," said Maxfield. "Some of our guys were wide-eyed playing in their first playoff game and they did not respond to challenge"
The Reddies got on the board first as Kevin Nichols scored on a 1-yard run with 10:23 remaining in the first quarter.
Missouri Western answered back in a big way as they scored three times in the opening quarter with a 15-yard run by Michael Hill, a 1-yard keeper by quarterback Travis Partridge and a 45-yard field goal by Taylor Anderson to make the score 17-7 by the end of the first quarter.
Henderson State cut the deficit to 17-14 early in the second quarter as Jarvis Smith scored on a 14-yard run with 8:50 left in the half.
Missouri Western then responded with two quick scores before the half as Reggie Jordan caught touchdown passes of 6 and 1 yard from Partridge to give the Griffons a 31-14 advantage at the break.
Early in the third quarter, MWSU's Raphael Spencer provided the big blow as he broke free for a 63-yard score to increase the Griffin lead to 38-14.
After another MWSU score midway through the final quarter, Israel Valentin caught a 6-yard pass from Rodgers for the final score of the game.
Rodgers, the 2012 Great American Conference Offensive Player of the Year and national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, ended the day completing 37-of-65 passes for 412 yards but was picked off four times.
"There is no excuse," said Rodgers. "I made some bad reads and didn't do a good job locating my receivers. I just didn't play a good game today and I am disappointed."
Despite the disappointing ending, Rodgers managed to become Henderson's all-time career passing leader by running his total to 5,269 yards in 18 games. The sophomore signal-caller passed Nick Hardesty who compiled 5,254 yards from 2009 to 2010.
For the season, the Rockwall, Texas native completed 271-of-409 passes for 4,002 yards and 41 touchdowns. Rodgers fell five yards short of Hardesty's single-season record of 4,007 yards set in 2010.
"Kevin has had a great season," said Maxfield. "I know he is disappointed in the way he played today, but I am glad he will be my quarterback for the next two years. He is great leader."
Robert Jordan caught nine passes for 125 yards and became only the third player in Henderson State history to end the year with more than 1,000 yards receiving. The junior from Miami, Fla. ended the year with 65 catches for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Dustin Holland went over 100 yards for the third time this season having 10 receptions for 103 yards.
Keaton Stigger led Henderson's defense with 16 tackles including 10 solo stops, while Maxie Graham ended the game with 13 tackles.
"We know what it takes to get here and I feel we will be in position to be back here a year from now," said Maxfield. "I am very proud of this team, what we have accomplished, and how far our program has evolved. We will come back next week and start preparing for next year knowing what we need to do to get to the next level."