Carterville quarterback Keaton Pestka set the table on a long run near the end of the first half and the Lions scored early in the second half to continue its momentum in a 20-6 opening season victory over Benton here Friday night.
Playing stingy defense, the Rangers played even with the Lions for nearly 20 game minutes. Pestka put the Lions on the board with 2:42 left in the opening half on a broken play -- breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage -- and scoring on a 76-yard jaunt.
It remained 7-0 at the half and Benton lost one of its top linemen, junior Tyler Butler, near the end of the half when he was helped off the field with a sprained ankle. Butler did not play the second half.
It took Carterville just three plays into the second half. Colin Laczynski scored on a 67-yard run and added the extra point kick for a 14-0 advantage.
Carterville took advantage of a turnover to score its final touchdown with just over nine minutes left in the game. Following an interception, the Lions marched 53 yards, using 10 plays to score. The drive was interrupted by a power outage.
The Lions had a first and goal but two straight penalties brought the ball back to the 26. It was fourth and goal when the power went out. The blackout lasted about 15 minutes and when play resumed, Pestka gained 22 yards on the first play. Laczynski scored from 2 yards out on the next play.
Benton finally got on the board on its last offensive possession. Junior quarterback Grant Gordon completed 3-of-6 passes during the 70-yard drive. Sophomore Peyton Swigonski scored the Rangers' first TD of the season from 5 yards out. The point-after pass play failed.
The loss spoiled the debut of new Benton coach Justin Groves, who said the defense was outstanding. Offensively, the Rangers are still a work in progress.
"Our defense was unbelievable. Not only did they play good, I think they played great. We just couldn't do enough offensively to keep them off the field," Groves said.
"For some reason, we just didn't click offensively tonight. We'll go back and figure it out and we'll be ready for Sparta," he added.
The Rangers will host the Bulldogs next Friday at Tabor Field.