BENTON - With the painful sting of a recent loss still fresh in the air, the Saline County town of Benton played host to the ninth grade football team of cross county rival Bryant. Both team’s wanted this victory and the fans showed in resilient support of today’s youngsters and tomorrow’s War Memorial salt slinger’s. Benton football would walk away with salt in their wounds once again this season taking a beating from Bryant 34-0.
The Junior Hornets showed that they were just as determined to defeat the Panthers this season as their senior counterparts. They truly meant business from the very first play of the game. The ball was knocked loose during the opening kickoff return by Benton. The Hornets recovered deep in Panther territory, though they proved either unwilling or unable to capitalize on this opportunity. The Bryant defense showed up early in the game. During Benton’s first possession, a 3-yard loss and a 10-yard loss were produced by excellent tackling executed by the Hornets. Neither team scored during the first quarter.
Bryant opened the second quarter with the first scoring drive of the night. Quarterback Beaux Bonvillain tossed to receiver Austin Kelley. Hornet’s running Back DeAmonte Terry then carried a handoff through the right side gap to give the Hornets their first score, though the two-point conversion failed making it 6-0. Benton’s Ty Callahan then returned the kick all the way to midfield. This drive ended with the Panthers handing the football over on downs. On Benton’s next drive, Marvin Moody and Hayden Knowles combined for a tandem sack for a 5-yard loss. Benton would be forced to punt again. Facing fourth-and-1 from Benton’s 33-yard line, the freshmen Hornets gained their second touchdown of the night when Bonvillain threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to his wideout Garrett Misenheimer. The Panther’s trailed 14-0 at halftime.
Bryant started the second half with more terrific running. Less than one minute into the half, the Hornets’ Cameron Coleman ran power right to get Bryant’s third score. Then, with 2:45 remaining in the third, Bryant would hand off to tailback Terry on another power run for 2 yards making the score 28-0 at the end of the third.
The last seven minutes of this game flew by after the freshmen Hornet’s forced an interception and Bryant’s tailback Moore ran in for the fifth and last touchdown of the game. Benton showed that they still had the desire to compete when they ran another return kick back to midfield.
Bryant dominated this meeting on several fronts. The freshmen Hornets hit hard, tackled well, and executed together on defense, especially from the defensive line. The Panthers brought poor punting and miscommunication on pass routes. The Bryant offense also won the battle of O-line versus D-line.