Derrick Henry Has Record-Breaking Performance in Win Over Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. -- A win wasn't the only reward for Derrick Henry in Saturday's Iron Bowl victory over Auburn.
Behind a career-best performance, Derrick Henry broke numerous records, most notably Trent Richardson’s school records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in a single season during the Crimson Tide’s 29-13 win on the Plains.
Henry, who rushed for a career-high 271 yards and one touchdown in the win, surpassed both of Richardson’s vaunted records during the later stages of the second half.
First, on his 26th carry of the game with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Henry passed Richardson's single-season school record of 1,679 rushing yards on a 5-yard run. Then, in the fourth quarter on his 46th and final carry, he scored on a 25-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 with 26 seconds left, moving him ahead of Richardson’s season-best 21 rushing touchdowns.
Entering the game, Henry needed 154 yards and one rushing score to take sole possession of Richardson’s records, both of which were set in 2011, the year he finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.
"What Derrick has done for this team, because this team needs him to do what he does, I would say he's made as significant an impact on this team as any player that we've ever had,” coach Nick Saban said when asked to put Henry’s new records into perspective.
Capped off by his late touchdown, Henry carried the ball 14 consecutive times to end the game, one shy of Sherman Williams’ record 15 straight at Arkansas on Sept. 17, 1994. The late score also marked Henry's 17th straight game with at least one rushing touchdown, an SEC record he broke at Mississippi State two games earlier.
Last week, Henry tied Richardson’s record of 21 touchdowns with two first-quarter scores against Charleston Southern.
During Alabama’s second drive in the third quarter, Henry passed Mark Ingram for second on the single-season rushing list (1,658) before breaking Richardson’s mark later in the quarter.
Though senior backup Kenyan Drake dressed out and went through warmups, he did not play as he continues to recover from a fractured right arm sustained at Mississippi State. (Saban said he may be available to play in next Saturday’s SEC Championship Game against Florida.) Only one other running back, true freshman Damien Harris, received a carry on Saturday, which went for a two-yard gain.
As a result, Henry picked up the slack, rushing a school-record 46 times in the win. He broke the record on Alabama’s first play from scrimmage after Auburn turned it over on downs with 2:13 to go in the game. Johnny Musso owned the previous mark of 42 set on Nov. 28, 1970 against the Tigers.
"We really would like for somebody else to run the ball, but it got tough to take him out," Saban said. "He seemed like he got stronger as the game goes along, so it's hard to take him out at the end, though. He's the go-to guy. He didn't want to come out, he wanted to go. He said he was good, and he certainly finished the game like we needed him to. My hat's off to him as a competitor. He really inspires everybody on our team, the way he competes and the way he plays, the toughness he runs with. What a spirit, what a spirit."
After the game, Henry said he fresh enough to play another half of football.
“The ball isn't that heavy, so I was good,” Henry said.
Henry, who has seen an increased number of carries as the season has progressed, rushed for over 200 yards for the fourth time in five SEC games in Saturday’s win, tying him with Herschel Walker (1980) and Bo Jackson (1985) for most 200-yard rushing games in a single season in SEC history. It also tied Bobby Humphrey, who had four 200-yard games during his career, for most in Alabama history.
Henry’s 271 rushing yards, which rank third most in school history behind Shaun Alexander’s 291 at LSU in 1996 and Humphrey’s 284 at Mississippi State in 1986, also breaks Jackson’s Iron Bowl rushing record of 256 set in 1983.
For the season, Henry has now rushed for 1,797 yards and 22 touchdowns on 295 carries, placing him at or near the top nationally in all three categories.
Though Henry has played down all talks of a Heisman Trophy this season, Alabama center Ryan Kelly is among those who believe Henry has done enough to at least earn an invitation to the ceremony held in New York City on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. CT.
"I can't think of a guy who's more deserving of that award than him,” Kelly said. “Just a guy who, as big as he is, runs that many times in a game, especially in loaded boxes. In my opinion, yeah, he deserves that award."
After the game, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in the Buckeyes’ 42-13 win over Michigan on Saturday, congratulated Henry for his performance over Twitter, though he was also among those taken aback by the number of carries Henry received.
Henry replied to Elliott as followed:
Then, he sent out this tweet:
What’s Next for Henry:
• Needs 95 rushing yards to break Herschel Walker's single-season SEC record of 1,891 rushing yards set in 1981.
• Needs 397 rushing yards to break Shaun Alexander’s school record of 3,565 rushing yards. (Henry currently ranks sixth on the school’s list, behind Alexander, Bobby Humphrey, Kenneth Darby, T.J. Yeldon and Mark Ingram.)
• Needs two more rushing touchdowns to break Tim Tebow (2007) and Tre Mason (2013)'s single-season SEC record of 23 rushing touchdowns.
• Needs seven more rushing touchdowns to break Mark Ingram’s career rushing touchdowns record of 42 (2008-10). (Henry currently ranks fourth on the school’s list, behind Ingram, Shaun Alexander and T.J. Yeldon).
• Needs two more 100-yard rushing games this season to break Mark Ingram (2009) and Trent Richardson (2011)’s single-season school record of nine 100-yard games.
• Needs three more 100-yard rushing games in his Alabama career to break Shaun Alexander’s career record of 15 100-yard games (1996-99).
• Needs one more 200-yard rushing game to break both the SEC single-season and school career records for 200-yard rushing games. (He’s had four in the last five SEC games.)
• Needs eight more carries to break Shaun Alexander's single-season school record of 302 carries. (He passed five players on list against Auburn alone.)
• Needs to keep pace on current form over next two to three games to ensure he breaks Bobby Humphrey’s single-season school record of 133.7 rushing yards per game set in 1986. (Henry is averaging 149.8 rushing yards per game through 12 games this season.)