High school football: Benton sophomore QB Cassidy shines in second half of loss to Byrd

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The Benton Tigers lost their fourth straight game Friday night, falling to the Byrd Yellow Jackets 46-31 at Lee Hedges Stadium.

But there were some bright spots.

Sophomore quarterback Caleb Cassidy, making his second start, completed 11 of 16 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns in the second half. That came after the Tigers had just 40 yards of total offense on 22 plays in the first.

Benton (3-4, 0-4 District 1-5A) trailed 18-3 at the half and 25-3 early in the third quarter. The Tigers fought back to within 15 points three times in the second half but never could get a stop.

Byrd’s triple-option offense rolled up 302 yards rushing on 56 attempts. The Yellow Jackets had several long drives.

“I thought our guys gave an OK effort but we just weren’t where we were supposed to be when you play an offense like that,” Benton head coach Reynolds Moore said. “That’s kind of what happened.”

Moore was pleased with the play of Cassidy and the Benton receivers in the second half.

Cassidy threw an interception in the first half that led to a Byrd touchdown. But he guided the Tigers to touchdowns on every possession in the second except the final one when the Jackets made an interception on the game’s final play.

Cassidy’s TD passes went to Malik Antwine (18 and 7 yards), Artis Cole (23 yards) and Shaw Malley (23 yards).

For the game, Cassidy completed 15 of 28 passes for 240 yards, according to stats kept by Lee Hiller, who covered the game for The Times.

Cassidy’s second-half performance should be a confidence-builder, Moore said.

“We made some adjustments,” he said. “He kind of came out ready to play in the second half. The touchdowns were just incredible throws. Two of them were to guys who were in one-on-one coverage. He stuck it in there and they made great catches.

“The last one Shaw Malley got wide open and he dropped it in there perfectly. Shaw ran up under it and walked in the end zone.”

Antwine led the Benton receivers with seven catches for 88 yards. Artis Cole has two for 56, and Evan Cole had one for 45. Cameron Barnett had three for 27.

After two straight games at Lee Hedges Stadium, Benton returns home Friday to play Southwood (0-7, 0-4). The Cowboys lost to Haughton 41-19 Friday night.

“Southwood runs an offensive style that we’ve seen more of,” Moore said. “The kids are used to lining up against it a little more. Hopefully that will give them a little more confidence and a little more comfort … Obviously I think both teams will be looking for their first district win. Hopefully it will be a heck of a game.”