De’Angelo Henderson was already going to go down as one of the greatest to ever put on a Coastal Carolina football uniform.
He solidified that Saturday night, and Henderson is not close to being done – by any means.
The senior halfback scored three rushing touchdowns – two in the first quarter – to break the NCAA Division I record for most consecutive games with at least one touchdown (28), the program record for rushing touchdowns and became the Chanticleers’ all-time leading scorer as he helped Coastal Carolina to a 49-10 drubbing of Florida A&M in the home opener at Brooks Stadium.
“Maybe the offensive backs talk about it a little bit. Maybe the offense talks about it a little bit. But as a team, we don’t normally talk about that,” Chants head coach Joe Moglia said of Henderson’s accomplishments. “But to actually [break the records] is an incredible achievement, not so much an honor. And having a done such a good job, it’s an achievement nobody else in [Division I] football has ever done. Our guy has done that and we’re very, very proud of him as far as that goes.”
Former Coastal Carolna quarterback Alex Ross (2011-15) – the program’s all-time passing leader – stood on the sidelines as Henderson rolled over his opponents en route to the honors and realized the severity of the moment.
It may take a little while longer before Henderson, though.
“I was talking to Alex Ross on the sidelines and he said, ‘You don’t even understand what you just did,’ ” said Henderson, whose 302 career points passed former kicker Josh Hoke’s all-time program mark (297). “I don’t think it will hit me right now, but it’s a blessing and an honor and I’m very, very thankful.”
As usual, Henderson – who finished with 128 yards and three scores on 13 carries – shied away from taking full credit for the honors.
“It’s a real blessing from God to be in the position I’m in. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. But, man, that record – it goes years beyond this,” the 5-foot-8, 208 pound back said. “It goes back to 2013 when Chad Hamilton and Kevin Hart and all them were here, and in ’14 and ’15. There’s a long list of guys that have helped make this happen. It’s not just me or anything like that, it’s the O-line who helped and the receivers out there blocking for me. It means a lot.”
Sure, the players around Henderson have helped tremendously but there’s no denying his role in it.
Along with all the records, Henderson has now gained 100 yards or more 20 times in 43 games (27 starts). Nicknamed “Hop,” he has failed to reach the 100-yard mark just seven times as a starter for the Chants. In comparison, former halfback Lorenzo Taliaferro (2012-13) – who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens – is second all time on the program’s 100-yard rushing game list, accomplishing the feat just nine times.
“We know Hop is a great back for us. He’s a great leader for us and he has a great career here,” Moglia said of Henderson, who passed former halfback Aundres Perkins on the program’s all-time rushing touchdown list with 47 scores. “He’s going to get his share of touches; he’s going to get his share of scores.”
That much is evident, and Henderson was far from being the only player to step up for Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
Redshirt senior Richie Sampson recorded five tackles and had an interception for the second straight game back since missing over a year and a half due to a shoulder injury.
“Richie is one of the best athletes we have on the team and he started as a freshman. So, he’s come back and he’s ready to play,” Moglia said of the safety. “He has enough experience where he does a good job anticipating, so it’s not unusual for him to be in the position where the ball might be. He’s doing a good job tackling, he’s doing a good job with pass defense and he’s doing a good job getting to the ball.”
True freshman Laqavious Paul recorded a team-high nine tackles in his first career start at linebacker after junior Shane Johnson was held out with an ankle injury he suffered in last week’s season-opening win over Lamar (Texas).
Paul kept it simple in his approach.
“I just [said] in my head, ‘Don’t come out here thinking too much,’ ” he recalled. “Just go out there and play and have fun.”
Sophomore quarterback Josh Stilley – in his second career start – completed 16-of-22 passes for 157 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
After throwing the pick to Orland McKinney in the red zone during the second stanza, Stilley knew he couldn’t let it get to him or the team would suffer. He bounced back nicely, delivering an 11-yard touchdown pass – the first of his career – to Devin Brown to put Coastal Carolina ahead 29-0.
“I just tried to put it behind me as soon as it happened,” Stilley said of the interception. “… Mistakes are going to happen in a game. You just can’t dwell on it, and move on to the next series.”
Moglia was pleased with his young quarterback’s poise.
“Josh had a very, very fine game,” he said.
And for Henderson, it was just another day on the field doing what he does best. And one of the biggest perks for the Summerville native is that he gets to do it all in front of his family.
“One of the big reasons I came to Coastal was so I could be able to play in front of them,” Henderson said. “We’re about two hours away. They’ve been able to come see what I’m doing, what the team has been doing and it’s just a blessing. It’s a warm feeling knowing you have more personal support in the crowd every game.”
And Henderson will try to stay hot next week as he and the Chanticleers take on Jacksonville State at 1 p.m.
He’ll bring his records with him.