Another week, another second-half rally by the Benton Tigers.
For the second week in a row, Benton pulled out a victory after falling behind by double digits. Thursday night the victim was North DeSoto, which came into the game 5-1 and ranked No. 7 in the LSWA Class 4A poll.
Trailing 27-13, the Tigers came back to defeat the Griffins 28-27. Benton improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in District 1-4A. North DeSoto dropped to 2-2 in district.
Last week, Benton rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit in a 27-23 victory over Minden. In Week 5, the Tigers trailed third-ranked Northwood 28-7. They got within one late in the game, falling 28-27 after a try for two failed,
Benton coach Reynolds Moore is running out of words to describe his team’s grittiness.
“That’s what I told them,” he said. “It sounds cliche. I keep saying the same thing over and over again. You guys are fighting like crazy every week. You’re giving us everything we can ask for. The defense has been put in some bad spots. Our offense has also been put in some bad spots at times. The defense was put in some bad situations but they just keep standing up and playing.”
Two of North DeSoto’s touchdowns were fumble recoveries in the end zone. The Tigers also lost a fumble late in the game clinging to the one-point lead.
But the offense came through when it had to. The Tigers cut the lead to 27-20 on a 43-yard pass from Clint Lasiter to Malik Antwine with nine seconds left in the third quarter. Antwine broke a couple of tackles after making the catch.
The tying touchdown came with 7:23 left in the game. Facing a fourth down at the Griffins 29, Lasiter looked for Bubba Osby. The ball was tipped and Legend Denler was there to catch it in the end zone. RJ Moore’s fourth PAT made it 28-27.
Even if the pass had been incomplete, the Tigers would’ve had a first down at the 14 because North DeSoto was flagged for interference.
“It was kind of a freak play but it worked,” Moore said.
After the Benton defense forced a fourth-and-14 situation, North DeSoto, which had timeouts left, elected to punt.
The Tigers then gave the Griffins another chance with the fumble on a handoff following a high snap. Jeremy Hall responded with Benton’s final big play of the night, intercepting a pass and returning it to the 4.
The Tigers were then able to run out the clock.
The game was tied at 7 at the half. Sophomore Jackson Illingworth scored for Benton on a 2-yard pass from Lasiter. It was his second TD in as many weeks.
After the Griffins went ahead 14-7, Lasiter completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Denler.
North DeSoto then scored on Rykendrick Simpson’s second touchdown run of the game and a fumble recovery in the end zone, setting the stage for another Benton comeback.
Moore said the comebacks the previous two weeks gave the Tigers confidence.
“I think once you’ve done it once it gives you that mindset you can do it every time,” he said. “Even though we lost that game at Northwood I think we kind of turned the corner right there. I don’t know if we completely turned it but last week we come back again and get that win.
“This week we win by the same score we lost by two weeks ago. I think our guys have finally figured out that no matter what the score is or when it is in the game that we’re OK, we can play. I just wish they’d give it that sort of attention, that sort of mindset for 48 minutes instead of 20 or 30.”
The Tigers face Huntington Thursday night at Independence Stadium.