The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Benton, Buntin beats Bulldogs

  • Ranger QB scores three TDs in Friday nights SIRR Ohio contest
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  • If it wasn't for bad luck, Harrisburg wouldn't have any luck at all.
    It was a night, where a pre-game rain shower delayed the start of the contest and the wet field conditions did not play into the Bulldogs' favor as they fell 30-7 to Benton Friday night at Tabor Field.
    A pair of fumbles to start the second half for Harrisburg (3-3, 2-1) and a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage that ultimately led to Rangers touchdowns proved to be the difference as they moved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio Division.
    Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper said the discussion at halftime centered around establishing field position and putting an emphasis on running the football. None of which played out well for the Bulldogs.
    "We talked about coming out after halftime and moving the football, establishing field position and moving the football. We were unable to do that and it gave Benton great field position. It seemed like in the field position game, our backs were against the wall all night."
    After playing a scoreless first half, Harrisburg went 3-and-out on its opening possession of the second half. However, the ensuing punt snap resulted in a fumble, giving Benton the ball at the Bulldog 21-yard line where the Rangers used four plays and converted on a fourth-and-two from the three yard line to take a 7-0 lead.
    Harrisburg then fumbled the kickoff return, giving the ball back to the Rangers at the Bulldog 35-yard line where Benton's Tyler Owens tacked on a 24-yard field goal for a 10-0 advantage.
    Harrisburg would get on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when out of the wildcat formation, Jarren Goldman went off right tackle, 71 yards for a touchdown with 1:06 to play.
    The Bulldogs, looking to hold on the next possession, couldn't overcome a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage by Bulldog Tyler Owens when the tipped pass fell harmlessly into the arms of Benton's Lars Allen where he rumbled down to the 11-yard line, setting up Buntin's second score of the game from two yards out with 7:27 to play in the fourth quarter.
    That drive and score was then followed by a Ranger interception by Allen of sophomore quarterback Noah Vallette, filling in for the injured Sykes Thompson, where Buntin scored his third TD of the game, putting the nail in the coffin for the Bulldogs as Benton built a 24-7 lead.
    Roper felt his backup quarterback faced a lot of adversity on the field, but for the most part, filled in nicely for Thompson who was out because of a knee injury he suffered in last week's win at Massac County.
    "As a sophomore he did a fairly nice job, but its one of those situations where you're playing your backup quarterback in the mud, he's a sophomore and it's a tough situation for him to be in because he was going both ways for us."
    Page 2 of 2 - The Bulldog offense sputtered most of the night, despite coming away with 222 yards, 208 of which came on the ground.
    Vallette led the ground game with 91 yards on 14 carries, while Goldman racked up 74 yards on seven carries.
    "Harrisburg football is based on the run and we were trying to run the football with no motion and ended up having to go to our spread stuff," Roper said. "Which when its wet like this, isn't necessarily the best thing."
    Harrisburg is still in search of the five wins necessary to qualify for the postseason. At three wins and three games remaining on the docket, the Bulldogs close out the season with a game Friday at home against Murphysboro, followed by road games at Herrin and Carbondale to close out the season.
    Murphysboro is also 3-3 after a Friday night win over West Frankfort, while Herrin and Carbondale are 4-2.
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