A strong defensive effort helped the Benton Tigers knock off the Fair Park Indians 31-0 in front of a large homecoming crowd Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in District 1-4A. Benton is one game behind Minden (7-0, 4-0) and Woodlawn (6-1, 4-0) with three games left in the regular season.
The Tigers face Woodlawn Friday night at Independence Stadium. The Knights defeated Huntington 44-13 Thursday night.
According to Benton stats, the Tigers held Fair Park to 4 yards total offense. They also recovered two first-half fumbles, including one on a bad snap, deep in Indians territory that led to 10 points.
“That’s a big stat right there,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said of Fair Park’s total yardage. “You don’t see that. That was big especially playing without TJ tonight.”
Benton played without injured defensive lineman TJ Anderson. Linebacker Jordan Myles led the defense with seven tackles. Jackson Mathews had a sack and a fumble recovery.
The Tigers led 17-0 at the half, but Moore wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s play on offense and special teams.
Benton threw an interception and lost a fumble in Fair Park territory. The Tigers also muffed a punt in scoring position and had Bubba Osby’s punt return for a touchdown erased by a penalty.
“I told them, ‘You’re up 17-0 but you shouldn’t be. It should be way more than that. You didn’t play well,’ ” Moore said. “Honestly, we did some out-of-character things, some silly stuff. You’re not going to consistenly win games like that. It seems we were doing everything we could to keep them in the game.”
Benton did drive 90 yards for its first touchdown, though. Jermaine Newton went over from the half-yard line on fourth down after the Indians held the Tigers out of the end zone on three tries from the 1.
Brooks Cram booted a 32-yard field goal, and Newton scored on another short run.
The Tigers got back on track in the second half.
“I think we came out in the second half and started cleaning that up, started running the clock before the end of the third quarter,” Moore said. “Our guys did a good job of executing and finishing, especially in the third quarter.”
Benton quarterback Garrett Hable completed 18 of 31 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore Legend Denler had a very good game, catching four passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Steady Doyle Adams Jr. had five catches for 40 yards and a score.
Newton finished with 52 yards on 18 carries.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com