Wildcats defeat Benton; close regular season at 9-0
The Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team finished the regular season with an undefeated record with a 62-28 Senior Night win over visiting Benton at The Pit Friday night, Oct. 27.
“It was a nice win for our kids to finish off their senior season undefeated,” A-J coach Brett Detering said.
“I thought we did a lot of good things on offense and defense. We were able to rush the ball and we had big plays on our kickoff game and punt returns,” Detering said.
The Wildcats are 9-0 headed into the Illinois High School Association playoffs next Saturday. The Rangers finished the season at 5-4.
Benton didn’t start off the game in good shape as A-J’s Sheldon McGrath intercepted quarterback Hamilton Page’s pass on the visiting team’s opening drive.
The Wildcats were then on the move.
A-J fullback Jayce Turner capped an 11-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.
Jaryt Tripp’s extra point kick put the Wildcats ahead for keeps, 7-0, with 6:20 remaining in the opening quarter.
McGrath again halted the Rangers’ next drive on another intercepted pass from Page.
The Wildcats then appeared to be halted deep in Ranger territory with a penalty. However, Arieh Hart scored on the ensuing play on a 13-yard run at the end of a 7-play drive.
Tripp’s kick boosted A-J to a 14-0 advantage with 2:29 left in the quarter.
Benton came right back as quarterback Page connected with Cade Thomas on a 40-yard TD pass.
Ian McMahon’s extra point kick had Benton trailing 14-7 with 1:08 remaining in the opening quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hart scrambled for an 85-yard TD run.
Tripp’s kick boosted A-J to a 21-7 lead with 54.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Wildcats’ Reid Morrison sacked quarterback Page for a long loss to thwart Benton’s next drive. Turner then blocked McMahon’s punt and A-J took over deep in Benton territory.
Five plays later, Wildcat quarterback Bryce Osman scored on a 2-yard run.
The extra point kick was blocked and A-J led 27-7 with 8:54 remaining in the first half.
After two plays, quarterback Page connected with Thomas for a 48-yard TD pass.
The extra point kick was off and Benton pulled to 27-13 with 8:17 left in the first half.
Three plays later, Osman connected with Hart for a 62-yard TD pass.
Tripp’s kick was good and A-J led 34-13 with 6:40 remaining in the half.
A-J’s Garrett Fabec sacked Page for a big loss to thwart the next Ranger drive.
Osman then scored on a 4-yard run at the end of a 5-play drive.
Tripp’s kick put A-J ahead 41-13 with 1:42 remaining.
Quarterback Page then connected with Gage Harmon on a 2-yard TD pass to cap a 5-play drive. McMahon’s kick pulled Benton to 41-21 with 15.5 seconds remaining in the first half.
It didn’t take the Wildcats long to get rolling in the second half.
On their first possession, Osman scored on a 45-yard run after a 4-play drive. Tripp’s kick boosted the Wildcats to a 48-21 advantage with 10:10 left in the third quarter.
Morrison again thwarted the Rangers’ next drive by sacking Page for a long loss.
After a short punt, A-J’s offense was on the move again.
Osman scored on a 6-yard run after five plays.
Tripp’s kick boosted A-J to a 55-21 advantage with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Morrison had another big sack of Page to stop the Rangers’ next drive.
“Morrison came up with big plays for us,” Detering said. “He does a good job getting pressure on the quarterback when he’s healthy.”
Morrison had been nursing an injury.
Six plays later, Turner scored on a 1-yard plunge.
Tripp’s kick put A-J on top 61-21 with 10:28 remaining in the final quarter.
With A-J ahead by the 40-point margin, a continuous clock concluded the game.
Later, Benton’s Page scored on a 2-yard run after a 7-play drive to close out the scoring. He then connected with Thomas for the two-point conversion with 5:39 remaining in the game.
Benton was held to 120 yards rushing, but had 225 yards passing.
“Our defense did a good job of keeping them on a short field and stopping their running game,” Detering said. “But we gave up too many big plays passing. It’s something we’ve talked about and have to get better at.”
Turner led A-J with 174 yards rushing on 27 carries. Osman had 90 yards on 10 carries.
“Jayce and Bryce were doing what they’ve done for us all year long,” Detering said. “They are very, very solid players that run the option well.”
Hart added 17 yards on 7 carries.
Osman was 2 of 3 passing for 63 yards. Hart had both those receptions.