BENTON – When Collin Milton hauled in a slant following a slick pump fake from quarterback Garrett Hable, he looked upfield and saw no defenders, but clumps of mud that seemed like ice-covered mountains.
“I thought I was going to slip the entire time,” said Milton, a senior wide receiver. “My main focus was ‘don’t slip, don’t fall.’ The 40 yards felt like a really long time.”
Milton may have registered the slowest 40-yard time of his life, but it was likely the sweetest.
Milton stayed on two feet and found the end zone with 1:22 remaining to give his Tigers a 34-30 lead — and eventually a victory — against game District 1-4A foe Woodlawn.
Benton improves to 7-1 (5-0 in 1-4A) and can clinch an outright district title with wins against Northwood and Bossier.
Friday’s steady rains transformed Tiger Stadium into a quagmire, but the sloppy track, and an old-fashioned fourth-quarter shootout left Benton head coach Reynolds Moore wishing he had some eligibility left.
“I was looking at the uniforms, the purple and white on there is all muddy and nasty,” Moore said. “This is great football weather, a great football team, a great effort. The field is in terrible shape, but we’ll deal with it.”
Moore told his team a night like Friday makes him “miss playing football.”
There were five lead changes and 36 points scored in the final 6 minutes of the game.
“Fireworks left and right,” Moore said.
While the mud-covered faces never tasted so good on the home sideline, the visitors left with a sour taste in their mouths. A pair of leads vanished in the final 4 minutes and Benton’s final two drives were keyed by penalties that helped the Tigers avoid executing tough fourth-down situations.
It was tough to tell whether the towel Woodlawn head coach Jerwin Wilson used in the aftermath was to wipe away rain, sweat or tears.
The upstart Knights (5-3, 3-2) were oh-so close to pulling off a stunner and moving into the driver’s seat in 1-4A.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Trivensky Mosley, the Knights’ super sophomore, scampered 67 yards for a touchdown and Woodlawn grabbed a 22-21 lead with 5:03 remaining after a 2-point run by quarterback Treveion Youngblood.
Benton didn’t take long to answer as Doyle Adams Jr. raced 50 yards off a slant pass to give the Tigers a 28-22 advantage with 3:25 left.
Woodlawn one-upped the Tigers’ response when Arlonzo Chism was cornered on the ensuing kickoff, but skipped free and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. A Mosley 2-point run gave the Knights the lead again.
Benton’s game-winning drive covered 60 yards in 122 seconds. Three plays after a third-down holding call on Woodlawn, Hable set the Knights up once again with a fake to the bubble screen, a play that had been successful for the Tigers throughout the evening.
“We figured we could get them on a pump fake,” said Hable, who completed eight of 16 passes for 152 yards and the two fourth-quarter touchdowns. “We did and he was wide open.”
Mosley (176 total yards: 150 rushing, 26 receiving) wasn’t the only sophomore star on the field Friday. Benton running back Jermaine Newton tallied 154 rushing yards and two scores on 25 carries and added 38 yards receiving as the Tigers prevailed in the muck.
“It gives us a lot of confidence and puts us at the top of the list now,” Hable said.