Raiders defeat Eagles, 37-20

Published 10:56 pm Friday, September 22, 2017

Ben’s Ford was tied at halftime but the Eagles allowed 23 unanswered points in the second half on the way to a 37-20 loss to visiting Benton Academy on Friday night. It was the District 3AA opener for both teams.

“It’s a consistent problem that we face with our numbers,” Ben’s Ford coach Dean King said. “It’s tough when you have a lot of guys playing both ways and also on special teams, but we’ve got to play through those times where we feel tired.”

Ben’s Ford (2-4, 0-1 in District 3AA) took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter, when Jacob Seal scored on a 28-yard run with 9:43 left. A big play on the scoring drive was a 37-yard pass from Tyler Winstead to Kameron Underwood. The extra point was no good.

Benton (2-4, 1-0) responded with a scoring drive, which ended when Harris Dooley passed to Zac Nesbit for a 12-yard touchdown. Tolar Purvis added the extra point, putting Benton ahead 7-6 with 5:00 remaining in the second quarter.

The Eagles had an answer of their own, putting together a four-play drive that culminated with a fantastic long pass.

Winstead made a pass to Justin Moore along the right sideline, and Moore tiptoed along the line and made a cut back to the inside for a 72-yard touchdown reception. Winstead passed to Underwood for a two-point conversion, and Ben’s Ford regained the lead 14-7 with 2:57 remaining in the second quarter.

But once again, Benton had a response and tied the game with 40 seconds left. Dooley kept the ball on a 4-yard touchdown run and Purvis added the extra point.

In the third quarter, the Eagles put together a strong drive that lasted almost eight minutes, but a crucial turnover quickly gave momentum back to the Raiders.

Facing third-and-10 from the Benton 34-yard-line, Winstead’s attempted pass was intercepted by Dooley with 4:47 left in the third, and he returned it 66 yards for a touchdown. Purvis added the extra point to put the Raiders up, 21-14.

Benton added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Dooley had a 2-yard run with 10:22 left and also added the two-point conversion. Dooley added another 7-yard touchdown run with 5:08 left, followed by a two-point conversion run by Cody Prescott.

Down 37-14, the Eagles did not quit. Ben’s Ford put together a seven-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown run by Winstead with 2:55 left in the game. Winstead’s two-point conversion attempt failed.

“My kids never quit, even when they got down big in the game,” King said. “That’s one thing I like, was that we continued to play hard. In all honesty, I think we’re an improved team from last year. Each game, there are some good things that we can build upon, although there’s also a lot of mistakes we need to fix.”

Ben’s Ford held Benton to three-and-out and got the ball back with 1:38 left in the game, but the Eagles turned it over on downs at their own 37. Dooley then knelt out the clock.

Purvis appeared to badly injure his leg with about three minutes left in the third quarter, and an ambulance was required to transport him off the field. But he was able to wave to the crowds from the stretcher and his teammates came over to greet him before he was taken away. The game was delayed for approximately 15 minutes.

Ben’s Ford travels to face Wayne Academy next Friday night.