The Benton Panthers finished off their preseason on a little bit of a shaky note heading into the final week of preparation before the 2011 season. Head coach Scott Neathery played his starters for only one half against Malvern on Tuesday. After playing two 15 minute quarters, the Panthers and Leopards were knotted up at 10-10. Benton could have scored more with a little more focus on the field.
â€śWe are still a little sloppy,â€ť Neathery said. â€śWe still need to polish up.â€ť
The Panthers started the game like Neathery and the rest of his staff wanted to, but were unable to hold the momentum over the course of the game.
â€śWe started off hot,â€ť Neathery said. â€śOffensively we need to execute better. Defensively I thought we reacted to the ball well but we need to work on out tackling a little bit.â€ť
Senior starting quarterback Dylan Harris had a big play during his stint on the field, hitting one of his receivers for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
â€śDylan missed the mark on a few passes,â€ť Neathery said. â€śHe also made some passes that were pretty good passes.â€ť
The second half did not fare well for the Panthers as they were outscored by Malvern 14-7. The half did have some fireworks coming from the arm of sophomore backup quarterback Terek Beaugard when he hit a receiver for a 45-yard touchdown. Known as a running quarterback, Beaugard tossed a little more than normal.
Though the Panthers lost the game by a score of 24-17, Neathery has not changed his outlook for the season.
â€śWe still need to work on our execution then we will start working on Bryant game-plan,â€ť said Neathery. â€śBryant has some good skilled position guys so we need to make sure we gain tackle. Thats what were are concerned with.â€ť
Mayor David Mattingly predicted that Benton would win during the Salt Bowl press conference earlier this month. Neathery would not comment on who would win, but he did say that he thinks his team will play hard and try to keep it close.
Bryant beat Benton in a blowout last season 45-9.
Benton and Bryant face-off again on opening night. The Salt Bowl is set for Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.