It was a tale of two halves Friday night at Lee Hedges Stadium.
Southwood made its breaks in the first half, but Benton turned the Cowboys around in the second half for a 55-20 non-district victory.
The Class 4A Tigers won their third straight under coach Reynolds Moore while 5A Southwood dropped to 1-2.
Southwood, coming off a victory over Huntington last week, battled Benton to a 20-20 tie at halftime before losing the momentum.
“I told our guys at halftime that Southwood came out and hit us in the mouth,” Moore said. “They were physical and you have to give them credit. They made plays. None of the teams we have played thus far have been that physical.”
But Benton turned the tide quickly in the third quarter. After a big hit by the defense, Benton’s Sam Simmons scooped up the ball at the 2-yard line and hustled into the end zone for a touchdown. That put the Tigers ahead for good at 27-20 with 10:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Doyle Adams Jr., who had three TD receptions, put Benton up 34-20 five minutes later with a 13-yard run around right end. That came just three plays after a 30-yard punt by Southwood.
Quarterback Garrett Hable, who was 28-of-42 for 262 yards, had a 4-yard keeper for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter followed by a Hable to Adams pass play for 15 yards. Keldric Moody rounded out the second half scoring with a 4-yard run.
“We turned the momentum around by making plays,” Moore said. “The hit on the kickoff return and the fumble return were big. And, Garrett (Hable) started to click. We also ran the ball extremely well.”
Southwood Coach Anthony McClain was pleased with his team’s effort, especially in the first half.
“We played well in the first half,” he said. “If we play like that in the second half, we are in it against a top-10 4A team. But, we made mistakes and it kind of steamrolled on us.”
Benton opened the game scoring with a 53-yard drive on nine plays. The march was capped off by a 4-yard slant pass from Hable to Adams.
But Aaron Roshell was somehow able to get through the Benton defense for a 78-yard run a few minutes later. Quarterback Charles Wallace scored from the two on the next play for a 6-6 tie.
The Tigers came right back to go ahead 13-6 when Hable drove Benton to the Southwood 12 with his passing. Hable found Adams again with a 12-yard scoring toss.
On the next series, Southwood tied it up thanks to a 53-yard run by Di’Brell Caldwell to the Benton 2. Wallace’s sneak on the next play tied the game at 13.
Southwood went ahead 20-13 on a bizarre play. Hable completed a swing pass to running back Jermaine Newton, who had the ball taken out of his hands by Xavier Jones. Jones went 90 yards with the fumble return and a touchdown.
Hable quickly got his team back down the field and completed the first half scoring with a four-yard keeper that gave the Tigers a 20-20 stalemate at intermission.
Roshell finished with 98 yards rushing on 10 carries to pace the Cowboys.
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