October 18, 2009 12:24:00 AM
FULTON -- Former Starkville High School quarterback Brad Henderson wondered when he would get another chance to start for the East Mississippi Community College football team.
After getting the nod in the first game of the season against Copiah-Lincoln C.C., Henderson spent the next six games backing up sophomore Randall Mackey.
Mackey hurt a knee and an ankle last week in a victory against Northeast Mississippi C.C., so Henderson knew the chances were pretty good he would get another opportunity.
The call came Wednesday.
"I found out right before we were going out for practice," Henderson said. "When coach (Buddy Stephens) told me I was starting, I knew I was going to have to make plays."
Henderson, a redshirt freshman, made enough plays Saturday to lead the Lions to a 28-6 win against Itawamba C.C.
EMCC (7-1, 5-0 in the MACJC North Division) saw the good and bad out of its freshman quarterback.
Henderson was 26 of 36 for 195 yards and two interceptions. He added 58 yards rushing on six carries.
Stephens knew Henderson probably wouldn''t play a mistake-free game, but he was pleased with his effort.
"Brad has a tremendous amount of poise," Stephens said. "He missed a few open guys (Saturday) that in the next start we don''t need to miss. All in all, Brad managed the game very well and did what we asked him to do. Again, we''ve got to work on our execution."
Even when Henderson made mistakes, he wanted to show his teammates he could regroup.
"You''ve got to take the bad and come back and make good plays after that," Henderson said. "You''ve got to come back and keep your head up so your teammates won''t get down. That''s what I tried to do as a maturing quarterback. It''s a learning process out there."
Henderson had a part in all of the Lions'' scoring. He showed his running skill on EMCC''s first possession with a 5-yard keeper with 8 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
With a little less than two minutes left in the first quarter, Henderson connected with Lance Lewis on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Henderson had a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:18 left in the second quarter and found Lewis on a 30-yard scoring strike on the final play of the first half.
"The touchdown he had for his team right before half was big because I thought we would still go in at halftime within striking distance," ICC coach Jeff Terrill said.
Terrill said the Indians were aware of Henderson''s ability and was disappointed his team wasn''t prepared better to deal with him.
"I thought he did a good job of managing his team," Terrill said.
EMCC sophomore running back Pat Shed, who played with Henderson at Starkville High, has watched his teammate mature.
"He was able to make some big plays for us," Shed said. "Going through high school, Brad was always quiet, but he''s brought more intensity to the game, and he became a leader in playing the quarterback role."
During his redshirt season last year, Henderson had to go against the first-team defense in practice as a member of the scout team.
Henderson said that time toughened him.
"Coach would put me in during blitz period and I started making my decisions a little bit quicker in making the transition from high school to college," Henderson said. "I got a lot better and got comfortable with my receivers, my offensive line and knowing the plays."
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