The win was there for the taking for the Benton Tigers in head coach Reynolds Moore’s debut Friday night in Sterlington.
With less than three minutes remaining the Tigers led 31-27 and Sterlington was backed up on its 12-yard-line facing a fourth-and-4.
One stop and victory was virtually assured.
But Sterlington’s Jaylon King went 84 yards on a reverse to the Benton 3.
The Panthers scored with 1:34 left to take a 34-31 lead.
Benton got the ball a final time and had its chances, but Sterlington held on for the 34-31 win.
“We’ve got to finish,” Moore said. “We talked all summer in the weight room that we’ve got to get our mindset into finishing and we didn’t do it.
“We had a two-score lead a couple of times in the second half…. It’s tough man. I hate it for our kids. They deserve better.”
Benton’s first time out with Moore’s new spread offense can be considered a success, though.
Jordan Shaffer completed 31 of 45 passes for 359 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
He utilized several different receivers.
Tyler Stephens had eight catches for 107 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown. Kordy Stewart had six catches for 103 yards.
Clayton Festavan had a 45-yard touchdown reception and finished with seven catches for 81 yards.
Dorsavion Williams had six catches for 58 yards, including a 23-yard TD.
Moore said big plays hurt the Tigers all night.
“They didn’t drive the ball on us at all,” he said. “Everything they scored on was pretty much big plays or set up by a big play.
“They didn’t do anything that we didn’t think they were going to do. We just had some mental breakdowns that cost us big.”