High school football: Benton hangs with Acadiana early but No. 1 Wreckin’ Rams prove to be too much for Tigers

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Early in the second quarter, the No. 32 seed Benton Tigers scored to tie their Class 5A first-round playoff game against No. 1 Acadiana at 14.

It wasn’t exactly what the home crowd in Lafayette was expecting.

But the Wreckin’ Rams soon lived up to their nickname. Taking advantage of some big plays and Benton mistakes on special teams, Acadiana scored 36 points in the second quarter en route to a 50-21 halftime lead.

The Wreckin’ Rams went on to win 78-28. Acadiana (11-0) will host No. 16 Walker in the second round.

Benton finished its first season in Class 5A 5-6.

“I’m certain they didn’t think that game was going to be that close as long as it was,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said.  

“I wanted our kids to play hard and earn some respect — either win or earn some respect, one or the other. I feel like they did earn some respect as far as how hard they played. I felt like we executed the game plan very well. The kids did a great job. I’m really proud of them.”

Benton isn’t the first team this season to give up 70 or more points to Acadiana. The Wreckin’ Rams scored 70 against Sulphur, 82 against Sam Houston and 70 against Barbe.

Acadiana’s veer option offense is relentless. Three Wreckin’ Rams rushed for more than 100 yards.

“The defense played well early,” Moore said. “I think we just got tired honestly. We moved the ball fairly well in the first half.”

Senior running back Cameron Barnett, the Tigers’ leading rusher, returned to action after missing the regular-season finale because of an injury suffered late in Week 9’s game against Airline. He went out in the second half with another injury.

Injuries were a big part of the story of Benton’s 2019 season. It started when Rowe Thompson, expected to be a key player at defensive end, broke his hand in practice the week before the season opener.

“We had a different starting defense than we did in the jamboree,” Moore said. “We really played just two games with our defense we started the year with.”

Several more Tigers missed time in early and midseason because of injuries.

“Some were just freak injuries,” Moore said of the season opener against Oak Grove. “Hopefully we’ll stay healthier next year. We’ll be better prepared to play 48 minutes against 5A teams.”

Benton started the season 3-0 and then lost four straight to start district play. The Tigers had a quarterback change in midseason that wasn’t due to an injury.

Benton won two of its last three and led District 1-5A co-champion Airline 16-7 with six minutes left before falling.

“I think if we could’ve played with the continuity we did the last couple of weeks I think that middle season we might win one or two more of those,” Moore said. “It’s a good learning experience for our kids.”