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Panthers edge Rangers with late burst

  • Panthers quarterback Hunter Riggins scores the go-ahead touchdown in a downpour.

    Panthers quarterback Hunter Riggins scores the go-ahead touchdown in a downpour.
    Daniel Herbst Photo

  • Pinckneyville quarterback Hunter Riggins runs for a short gain while being tackled by Benton's Joey Craig during a prep football game at Pinckneyville on Friday night. The Panthers edged out the Rangers, 23-20.

    Pinckneyville quarterback Hunter Riggins runs for a short gain while being tackled by Benton's Joey Craig during a prep football game at Pinckneyville on Friday night. The Panthers edged out the Rangers, 23-20.
    Rick Hayes photo

  • Panther fullback Chase Fulkerson looks upfield on a first half run.

    Panther fullback Chase Fulkerson looks upfield on a first half run.
    Daniel Herbst Photo

  • Linebacker Stetson Lappin shoots through for a fourth down stop against Benton.

    Linebacker Stetson Lappin shoots through for a fourth down stop against Benton.
    Daniel Herbst Photo

 
By Rick Hayes
Contributing Writer
updated: 9/8/2018 11:28 PM

Not even a driving rain could keep Pinckneyville out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter here Friday night as the Panthers grabbed a 23-20 victory over Benton.

With the rain holding off for most of the game, it was on the Panthers' winning drive that the clouds opened up.

Quarterback Hunter Riggins engineered Pinckneyville's offense, getting nearly 40 yards on the ground during the 12-play drive. Riggins scored from seven yards out on the go-ahead touchdown with just over four minutes to play.

Benton went four and out on its next drive, and after stopping the Panthers near midfield, the Rangers fumbled a punt, killing any chances of a late comeback.

There were three lead changes in the first half. Benton scored first on a 44-yard pass reception by Joey Craig from quarterback Grant Gordon.

On the first play of the second quarter, Chase Fulkerson intercepted a Gordon pass and ran it back 26 yards for a touchdown. Benton retook the lead on its next possession on 50-yard pass play with Jaron Picklesimer on the receiving end.

Pinckneyville went up 14-12 with 4:23 left in the second quarter on a Riggins to Lucas Downward 50-yard pass play. Benton grabbed its 20-14 halftime lead on a 1-yard run by Gordon with 17 seconds remaining.

"It said a lot for our kids when we down at halftime and we came out and shut them out in the second half," said Pinckneyville coach Tod Rushing. "We made some huge plays when we needed them and the offense made a huge drive when we needed it."

"I can't say enough about how proud of our kids. We're just not able to put it all together at the same time," said Benton coach Justin Groves. "You see the flashes of brilliance … we came up short in key situations."

Pinckneyville improved to 2-1 while the Rangers fell to 0-3.