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The Benton Junior High Panthers got off to a stellar start Thursday night at C.W. Lewis Stadium with wins over the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams. The Freshmen Panthers won 28-6 while the eighth graders won 20-6.
Brinson Williams intercepted a Lakeside pass on the Rams' first possession. On the ensuing play, Grayson Morrow made a diving catch in the end zone for the Panther touchdown. Williams kicked the first of his four PATâ€™s, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Colton Nix intercepted another Rams pass on their next possession. Following an incompletion, Drew Dyer raced 61 yards for a score.
The Rams drove inside Panther territory on their next possession, but on a first down play at the 46-yard line, Williams forced a fumble that was recovered by Blake Jenkins. Two plays later, Maertens connected with Nix for a 56-yard touchdown making the score 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Lakeside again turned the ball over with a fumble on its first drive of the second quarter. Zach Whittamore recovered the fumble. The teams traded possessions throughout the remainder of the half.
Lakeside dented the scoreboard on their second play of the third quarter. Spencer Plumlee scampered down the right sideline for 56 yards. The conversion failed leaving the Panthers ahead 21-6.
The final Panther score of the night came with 1:13 left in the third quarter when Williams ran 7 yards.
Maertens finished the night 4 of 6 passing for 100 yards. In addition to Dyerâ€™s big touchdown run, Nix contributed 36 yards on just three carries.
For the eighth graders, Brandon Hunter scored on a 58-yard run and Ty Callahan caught two touchdown passes from Preston Stone. Matt Warrick was 2 of 3 on extra point tries.
The Panthers officially begin the 2012 season next Thursday evening at Sheridan. The eighth graders will kick off at 5:30 with the freshmen game to follow at 7:00. For those who might not be able to attend the game but wish to follow the action, KEWI 690 A.M. in Benton will carry a live broadcast of the freshman game.