In a wild game, the Benton Tigers held on for a 49-48 overtime victory over the Vicksburg Gators Friday night in Vicksburg, Miss.
With 9:37 left in the game, Benton led 42-21. With just a few minutes left, the Tigers were on top 42-28.
Vicksburg scored on a 67-yard touchdown pass to get within seven.
“We just didn’t finish them off,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said. “We had ‘em gassed. They were tired and all of a sudden they got that one touchdown and got a stop. Just gave them a bunch of energy.”
On fourth-and-12, Vicksburg quarterback Sha’kori Ragan escaped heavy pressure and scrambled 38 yards for a touchdown with 15 seconds left. The PAT tied it at 48.
Benton got the ball in overtime first. The Tigers called a quarterback option on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Clint Lasiter pushed his way into the end zone.
The snap on the PAT was a little high, but holder Cade Stewart got it down and RJ Moore’s kick was true.
Vicksburg then scored on its possession. Moore thought the Gators would go for two and the win.
“They had us on our heels,” he said.
Vicksburg coach Tim Hughes told the Vicksburg Post he did consider going for two after the final TD in regulation and the overtime touchdown. But he felt the Gators had the momentum to keep going in overtime.
The snap was low on the PAT attempt and the holder couldn’t get it down. The Tigers made the tackle and headed home with a victory.
Benton had a good rush and Moore thought the Tigers would’ve possibly blocked the kick regardless.
“I told our guys it wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t proud of our effort for 48 minutes, but ultimately we did enough to get the win,” Moore said. “We scored more points than they did and that’s really all that matters right now.”
Benton improved to 2-0 while Vickburg dropped to 1-3.
RJ Moore, the coach’s son, made all seven of his PAT attempts. Reynolds Moore said Stewart also did a good job of placing the ball each time especially on some snaps that weren’t perfect.
Lasiter completed 15 of 31 passes for 257 yards and five touchdowns, including four in the first half, two to Evan Cole and two to Malik Antwine. Antwine caught six passes for 128 yards.
While the offense put up some big numbers, Moore was disappointed the Tigers couldn’t get some first downs and put the game away in the fourth quarter.
“Quite honestly, we did not play well consistently most of the night,” he said. “We had guys we worked on stuff with all week just lining up wrong and missing tackles, stuff we hope is out of character for us. We’ve got to find some answers moving forward to be competitive the rest of our schedule.”
It didn’t help that All-Parish defensive lineman Cade Waites left with an injury in the first quarter. He tried to return but couldn’t continue to play.
“Tonight it made a big difference,” Moore said. “We had linebackers that were making plays eight to 10 yards downfield.”
The Tigers starting center also went out with an injury in the first quarter.
Ragan gave the Tigers defense fits. According to the Vicksburg Post, he ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 184 and two TDs.
Benton returns to action Thursday night against Huntington at Independence Stadium. The Raiders (1-1) fell to Booker T. Washington 30-24 Friday night.