The Benton Tigers earned their first victory of the season Friday night, knocking off previously undefeated Tioga 27-17 in Tioga.
“It feels good to finally get a W,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said.
The Tigers (1-2) rolled up 358 yards on the ground. Keldric Moody had a big game, rushing for 205 yards on 21 carries and scoring three touchdowns. Cameron Barnett rushed seven times for 84 yards with most of that coming on a late touchdown run that gave the Tigers a 27-10 lead.
Sophomore Clint Lasiter got his first start at quarterback and went the distance, completing 12 of 22 passes for 172 yards with two interceptions. Bubba Osby made some big plays, catching five passes for 126 yards.
The Tigers defense also came through, keeping the Indians (2-1) out of the end zone on several trips inside the red zone.
It was Benton’s second road trip this season. The first one to Monroe in Week One didn’t end on a pleasant note with Wossman scoring a late TD to win 37-34.
Moore said he and his team were determined to have a better trip this time. The Tigers left Benton around 1 p.m. and had their pregame meal and a restaurant in Alexandria owned by a friend of his. (Moore was the head coach at Bolton in Alexandria before coming to Benton in 2013).
The team then relaxed a little before getting down to business.
Tioga moved the ball on its opening drive but the Tigers defense stiffened and the Indians missed a field goal. Benton took the lead with a TD on its first possession.
The Tigers extended the lead to 13-3 at the half. The Indians got within three with a TD early in the fourth quarter, but Benton answered the challenge and pulled away.
“We got a touchdown and a defensive stop,” Moore said. “Then we got another touchdown and went up 27-10. They scored one late and we got the onside kick and ran the clock out.”
Moore was pleased with the way Lasiter handled the offense in his first start, bouncing back from two first-half interceptions.
“In the second half he made some great throws,” Moore said. “The things he missed on he actually made the right read. The ball sailed on him a little bit one time. The other one he didn’t get it outside enough, just little things we can fix. He brings a lot to the table running the ball. He’s pretty fast and tough when he does that. He had some nice little runs tonight so we like what he does right there.”
Lasiter replaced senior Ken Gay early in last week’s 26-7 home loss to Alexandria Senior High. Moore said Gay won’t just be backing up Lasiter, though. He can be a valuable asset to the Tigers as the team goes into the district play.
“We’ll find somewhere to use Ken,” Moore said. “He’s a heck of an athlete. We want to get him on the field somewhere so we’ll meet as a staff (Saturday) and figure out where we can best use him.”
Moody, who rushed for just over 500 yards last season, had the best game of his career.
“Keldric showed more speed tonight than we’ve seen from him,” Moore said.
Barnett also came through with his long run.
“He kind of broke a tackle, got loose, then set a guy up with a nice move and hit the sideline,” Moore said.
After the 0-2 start, Moore said he talked to his players about maxing out their talent and effort and let winning take care of itself.
“I said I promise you it will and it did,” he said. “Our guys left it all out there, played their guts out.”
Benton opens defense of its District 1-4A title at Bossier on Friday. The Bearkats (1-2) lost to Logansport 41-0 Friday night.