The Benton Tigers’ outstanding season ended on a disappointing note Friday night.
Benton, the No. 3 seed, fell to the No. 14 Cecilia Bulldogs 23-21 in a Class 4A second-round game at Tiger Stadium in Benton.
The Tigers closed the season 11-1. The Bulldogs (8-4), who won their eighth in a row, will visit No. 11 Rayne in the quarterfinals.
The loss ended the high school careers of several seniors who helped Benton go 41-9 the last four seasons.
Among those are quarterback Garrett Hable, running back Jermaine Newton, defensive lineman and placekicker Brooks Cram, receiver Doyle Adams Jr., defensive lineman TJ Anderson and linebacker Jordan Myles.
Hable finished his career with more than 8,000 yards passing. Adams is the school’s all-time leading receiver. Newton rushed for more than 1,000 yards three straight seasons.
Benton won three District 1-4A championships during the four-year span, including this season.
Benton coach Reynolds Moore wrote about what all of his seniors meant to the program in an emotional Facebook post late Friday.
“To my seniors, I don’t even know where to begin. Ya’ll are all so special to our family. Our program is better for you having been a part of it. I sincerely pray that you are better men because of our program and that you will be even better husbands and fathers. I will always be here for you whenever and for whatever you might need. So many of you have started and contributed for so long, and I know you deserved to go out differently than how it ended tonight. It just doesn’t seem fair, but we have to accept responsibility and grow from it. Mrs. Chyrissee and I will never be able to adequately convey our sincere gratitude and love for each of you.”
The 11 wins are the most in Moore’s five seasons as head coach.
It wasn’t Benton’s night, but the Tigers didn’t go down without a fight.
After Tanner Olivier kicked his third field goal of the second half to put Cecilia up 23-14 with 2:43 left, Benton senior quarterback Garrett Hable completed a 78-yard TD pass to Hunter Burrough. Brooks Cram’s PAT got the Tigers within two.
Benton then recovered an onside kick and converted one fourth down on a Hable run. But the Tigers couldn’t convert a fourth-and-10 and that was the game.
Benton got off to a good start, taking a 14-0 lead.
Hable hit junior Legend Denler with a short pass and Denler outran the defense 44 yards to the end zone. After Jeremy Hall recovered a fumble on the kickoff, Sam Simmons scored on a short run set up by a good run by Jermaine Newton.
But the Tigers didn’t get in the end zone again until Hable’s late TD pass.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs made it into the end zone once in the first half on a 48-yard pass from Landon Lalonde to Kaleb Carter and trailed 14-7.
The game turned in Cecilia’s favor in the third quarter. The Bulldogs scored a touchdown on a 76-yard pass and added two field goals for a 20-14 lead.
Big plays in the passing game hurt the Tigers. According to statistics kept by The Times, Lalonde passed for 309 yards and Carter caught nine passes for 218.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org