Because of an injury, Benton receiver Collin Milton had to cheer on his teammates from the bench for the first half of the season.
He’s certainly made the most of his return to the field.
Milton caught a pass over the middle from Garrett Hable and went 40 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:22 left in the Tigers’ wild 34-30 homecoming victory over the Woodlawn Knights on Friday night.
Benton (7-1, 5-0) can clinch a share of its second straight District 1-4A championship with a victory over Northwood at home Friday night. The Falcons (3-5, 1-4) lost to Minden 34-13 on Friday. Woodlawn dropped to 5-3 and 3-2.
Milton’s catch was his third big play in as many weeks. Two weeks ago in a 41-34 victory over Minden, he caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Last week, in a 42-22 victory over Fair Park, he caught a pass that set up a TD with the Tigers leading by just six in the fourth quarter.
Milton suffered a broken collarbone during spring practice. He sat out most of the summer’s 7-on-7 games, but when he returned he broke it again.
Benton coach Reynolds Moore said Milton worked diligently to get himself ready to play.
“Collin brings a lot to the table,” Moore said. “He can play any of our four wide receiver spots. He also gives us the ability to a put a fifth receiver out there that has experience as a senior. He understands the game. I’m proud for him. It’s frustrating to get hurt before your senior year.”
As has become the norm in big games this season, Benton found a way to win against Woodlawn.
The game was tied at 14 with about seven minutes left. The Tigers took a 21-14 lead on Jermaine Newton’s second TD run and Brooks Cram’s PAT.
The Tigers had done a good job of bottling up standout Woodlawn back Trivensky Mosley for most of the game. But Mosley broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion gave the Knights a 22-21 lead.
Moore said Mosley, a sophomore who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards, was as good as advertised.
“I encouraged him after the game to graduate early,” Moore said with a laugh. “As a football fan he’s fun to watch; as an opposing coach knowing you’ve got to tackle him and deal with it he’s not fun. He’s a heckuva football player.”
Benton answered quickly as Hable connected with Doyle Adams Jr. for a 50-yard score.Cram’s PAT made it 28-22.
The lead didn’t last long. Woodlawn’s Alonzo Chism returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a TD. A two-point conversion put the Knights on top 30-28 with 3:25 left.
That set the stage for Hable’s pass to Milton.
“Right now I’m kind of in awe of our guys and how they respond to every single challenge,” Moore said. “We had trouble throwing the ball on the wet field. They threw it better than us early on in the rain. Garrett bounced back. We get a couple of plays late and get a shot at ‘em.”
The Tigers had some opportunities they didn’t capitalize on. Chauncey Taylor was stopped just short of the goalline of fourth-and-one. But they made the plays when they had to, Moore said.
“We were realy proud of that,” he said. “Our guys just amaze me how they respond to adversity, whether it’s the weather or being behind or a turnover at an inopportune time. They seem to always find a way to bounce back.
“I mean, if you told me we’d have been here I don’t know what I would’ve thought, to win games like this, to have our guys step up. You never know what you have until you get on the field sometimes. They’ve shown so much character, been tested and come out on the good side of it every time. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”
Taylor and Newton scored the Tigers’ first-half touchdowns on runs of one and five yards, respectively.
Newton had a big night, rushing for 147 yards on 25 carries and catching four passes for 39 yards.
Hable completed nine of 16 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 36 yards.
Adams had two catches for 57 yards. The Tigers played without Clayton Festavan, one of their top receivers who was hurt against Fair Park.
Zeke Barnett and Taylor had eight tackles each to lead the defense.
Tayon Batiste made some big plays, intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org