One play, the game’s opening kickoff, got the Benton Freshman Panthers off to a quick start against the Cabot North Freshman Panthers on Thursday night at Everett Field.
Chris Barnard returned the game’s opening kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown. Kyron Wells ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Benton lead just seven seconds into the ballgame.
That’s all the scoring Benton needed to improve to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in Central Arkansas Junior High conference play. Following Barnard’s kickoff return touchdown, the game turned into a defensive slugfest with Benton victorious 8-0.
Following Barnard’s touchdown, Benton coach Matt McBride called for an onside kick that Benton’s Demarcus Moore recovered at midfield. But Cabot turned Benton over on downs.
Cabot would reach as deep as the Benton five-yard line before Benton’s defense stiffened on back-to-back tackles for loss by Alvin Allen and Peyton McNeely.
That drive was a sign of things to come as Cabot reached the Benton 5, 7, and 15-yard line on three of their five drives. But each time, the Benton defense while bending did not break to preserve the shutout win.
Chris Barnard led the Benton defense with nine tackles, including three tackles-for-loss and one sack. Keandre Boson, Jordan Burr and McNeely also added sacks for the Benton defense.
The Benton offense mustered only 79 yards of total offense against a stout Cabot defense.
The 8th Grade Benton Panthers also recorded a shutout in the evening’s opener with a convincing 42-0 rout of Cabot North.
Elias Payne got Benton on the board with 4:14 in the first quarter on a 33-yard jaunt. O’Marcus King converted the two-point try for an 8-0 Benton lead.
Quentin Godley hit paydirt from two yards out and Payne ran in the conversion for a 16-0 second quarter Benton lead.
The Panthers tacked on a safety at 3:44 in the third quarter to push the lead to 18-0. On Cabot’s free kick following the safety, King raced 69 yards for a touchdown. James Smith’s two point run made it 26-0.
King continued his stellar night with a 48-yard interception return for touchdown at 2:33 in the third quarter. Maddox Davis’ throw to Julius Stinson gave Benton a 36-0 lead and set in place the mercy rule with a running scoreboard clock.
Devan Williams scored his first touchdown of the season and Benton’s final score of the game on a 27-yard screen pass from Davis for a 42-0 Benton win.
Benton’s 8th Grade Panthers are now 3-0 overall, 2-0 in the CAJHC.
Both Junior High teams hit the road next Thursday with conference games at Lake Hamilton. The 8th grade game will kick off at 5:30 with the Freshman game to follow.