The Patriots of Little Rock Parkview came into Everett Field against the Benton Panthers Friday needing a win to stay in the race for the 6A West title after falling last week. While the Patriots are certainly not out of it, Benton took another step towards its regular season goal clinching the game 30-23 on a wild finish as Jadin Collinett was able to intercept a Jaylon White pass with just over a minute remaining. The Panthers remain tied atop the conference standings with Lake Hamilton, which that game will be played on October 29th.
“There’s four teams in our conference that can beat each other on any given night and we saw that tonight,” Benton head coach Brad Harris said. “It’s not over with for us, we’ve got the motto of ‘1-0’ like everyone else and we are not going to look very far ahead. We’ve got a long trip to Mountain Home next week and I know they’re going to be loaded for us, but we don’t need to have that trap game.”
The Benton offense got started at its own 31 and took just three plays to find the end zone as Stran Smith found Cam Harris running down the Benton sideline for a 59-yard score to put the Panthers up 7-0 less than two minutes in. They decided to go for the onside kick and recovered at the Patriot 44 to begin a new drive. Facing 4th and 8, Smith found running back Brandon Johnson on a short pass and it appeared he made enough for the first down, but was marked short after the chains were brought out to measure.
Parkview took advantage of the 4th down stop handing off to Willie Eackles and he broke through the line of scrimmage for a 61-yard gain to the Panther 5. Facing 4th & goal, Jaylon White swung a pass out to Eackles who was stuffed on the 1 by Jake Jones.
On the ensuing drive Benton was forced to punt and it was muffed at the Parkview 40, but Kyveon Perkins picked it up and returned it all the way to the Benton 30. Four plays later, White punched it in from the goal line following some strong runs from Walter Hobbs and Razorback commit James Jointer but after the missed extra point Benton held a 7-6 lead with just over 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
Each team had a couple of drives a piece that failed to produce any points and Benton was able to break the streak at the beginning of the 2nd quarter on a 41-yard connection from Smith to Donovan Pearson after three straight penalties. They got the ball back, but went three and out thanks to back-to-back sacks from Jude Onuoha and Isaiah McKenzie, but Parkview muffed the ensuing punt giving Benton the ball back at the Patriot 39. Onuoha came up big again stopping Casey Johnson inside the 5 preventing a touchdown on 4th and goal, but the Patriot offense was not able to help as they went 3 and out quickly.
Benton was able to put 3 more points on the board with 3.8 seconds before the half on a 29-yard field goal by Lucas Wilber as a result of Smith hitting Harris on a long pass to the Parkview 12 giving the Panthers a 17-6 lead at the break.
There were multiple sloppy plays in the 4th quarter and Parkview finally took advantage with three minutes left on a bad snap when Benton was punting from its own end zone and Parker Perry made the play for the Patriots. Moments later on the kickoff, Monterio Elston took it 70 yards and all of the sudden we had a 17-15 ball game right before the final stanza.
More craziness ensued when Smith fumbled on the next drive and Trent Bennett was there for the recovery and gave Parkview a 1st & 10 from its own 46. Benton was able to force them into 4th & 4, but Patriots head coach Brad Bolding elected for the fake punt and Parker Perry was wide open on the left side. He broke a few tackles inside the 5 falling into the end zone giving Parkview a 23-17 lead after a successful 2-point conversion.
Smith and the Panther offense came out refusing not to respond and it only took them two plays. After a 10-yard run from Brandon Johnson, the Smith to Pearson connection struck again from 57 yards and a missed extra point tied it at 23 just over a minute into the 4th.
Benton then held Parkview to yet another quick 3 and out, headlined by linebacker Jake Jones’ 4-yard sack of White. Jones was very impressive all night as one of the key leaders for the Panther defense.
Casey Johnson was able to pace the rushing attack with 19 yards on the following drive, along with a Harris 17-yard reception, and Smith put the exclamation mark on it scoring the go ahead touchdown from three yards on 3rd and goal to put Benton up 30-23 with three minutes remaining.
Parkview had a long field with 80 yards to go and converted both a third & fourth down to get closer, but White was pressured heavily and threw up a prayer that was intercepted in the end zone by Jadin Collinet sealing the game for Benton.
“Heck of a ball game right there, we knew it would be like that,” Harris mentioned. “We felt like we had some opportunities to get up on them, but we never could. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, Coach Bolding had them ready to go tonight. Our kids played with a lot of energy, a lot of heart and I’m very proud of them.”
Parkview (3-3, 1-2) will play its next two games at home before finishing off the last two of the regular season on the road. Benton (5-1, 3-0), as previously mentioned, travels to Mountain Home next week and welcomes Greenwood to Panther Stadium the following before a massive showdown against Lake Hamilton on October 29th.
Article published by Kyle Sutherland, @k_sutherlandHTP on Twitter