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Prep Football: Rangers roll over Lions to open the season

  • Wyatt Upton had 42 yards on 10 carries in Benton's win over Carterville Friday night.

    Wyatt Upton had 42 yards on 10 carries in Benton's win over Carterville Friday night.

By Geary Deniston
Contributing Writer
updated: 9/1/2021 10:13 AM

Behind the arm and legs of quarterback Keegan Glover and safeties Chase Thomas and Reid Baumgarte on defense the Benton Rangers kept the Carterville Lions in check to open the season with a 23-6 win Friday night in a non-conference football game at Tabor Field.
"Overall a total team effort -- the coaches, the players -- everybody did a great job executing the game plan and adjusting when we needed to," said Benton coach Justin Groves. "I was real proud of their efforts. We are now looking to taking our team on the road for a different environment and atmosphere. It will be fun to get out of Benton."
The Rangers hit the road this week to play Sparta Friday before returning home Sept. 10 to face Pinckneyville. The Bulldogs lost their opener 56-6 at Freeburg.
"In two weeks it will be Military Appreciation Night," Groves said. "We're going to honor the men and women who lost their lives in Afghanistan and we're going to honor the memory of the 20th anniversary of September 11th, so it will be a big night in Benton with a lot of cool events going on."
Glover led the Rangers in rushing with 63 yards on eight carries, including scoring 16-yard touchdown run. The senior completed 14-of-22 passes for 132 yards and no interceptions.
"Glover led his team and made all the decisions we expected him to make," Groves said. "Several times we needed a big play for a first down we trusted him and his legs to get it for us. He actually scored our first touchdown. He's a big game kid."
The rest of the backfield was also productive with junior running back Wyatt Upton adding 41 yards on 10 carries, senior wide receiver Landon Bolen 32 yards on three carries and a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and junior fullback Jacob Kinsman 18 yards on two carries and a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Baumgarte and Thomas were also productive as receivers with the senior pair combining for 106 yards on nine catches. Thomas finished with five catches for 55 yards, including back-to-back 16 and 19-yard receptions in the third quarter and Baumgarte four catches for 51 yards, including a 20-yarder at the end of the third quarter and a 25-yarder to open the fourth.
Freshman kicker Jesser Zepeda Eber rounded out the scoring with a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Defensively Thomas led with 15 tackles, three for a loss, and half a sack while Baumgarte finished with eight tackles.
The Ranger defense came up big when it counted stopping the Lions game-opening drive on 4th-and-5 at the Rangers 21 when Kaleb Vaughn broke up a pass.
On the Lions second possession defensive lineman Brantley Reed stripped the runner of the ball on 2nd-and-21 and recovered the fumble at the Lions 37. Seven plays later on 4th-and-3 Glover rolled to his right and broke four tackles to score. Eli Hanson kicked the point and the Rangers led 7-0.
"We had some fandemonium on the Carterville side -- they were trying to roust him up a little bit chanting some things at him and maybe got him fired up," Groves said. "So he went back in there and made a big play for us. They had maybe five guys with a chance to tackle him and he went through all five of them and ended up scoring."
On the Lions third possession linebacker Lukas Wilson forced another fumble and recovered it to set up Rangers at the Lions 42 one play into the second quarter.
Despite two incomplete passes and two penalties for 15 yards the Rangers marched down the field capped off by Kinsman powering over right guard to score. Hanson again kicked the point and the Rangers led 14-0 with eight minutes left in the first half.
After trading punts the defense came up big again with its third turnover of the first half when Isaiah Ward picked off Andrew Hellriegel at the Benton 38. Glover drove the Rangers to 18, but a slippery ball caused Eber's 35-yard field attempt to be blocked.
On Carterville's next possession the Lions drove from their own 11 to Benton 28 where an incomplete pass at the buzzer ended the half, but a penalty gave the Lions one more play and Hellreigel took advantage tossing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Peyton Bittle. The two-point run was stopped leaving the Rangers with a 14-6 lead at the half.
"We had a little momentum coming into the second quarter," Groves said. "The defense was making some pretty good plays stepping up when they needed to and getting off the field. Then right before the half we stopped with no time left on the clock, but we had a late hit on their quarterback so they got one extra play. Our kid slipped and bumped into our own guy on their hot route to their slot receiver and he slipped into the end zone. They should have taken the momentum into halftime, but on the two-point run Thomas hit the kid in the backfield, so we were able to go in on a high note."
Benton took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 60 yards on seven plays with Bolen scoring from the 20. The two-point pass failed after a botched snap and the Rangers led 20-6 with 8:28 remaining in the third.
"I told the kids not to be alarmed because they would eventually find a way to score, so, of course, we had the ball coming out and marched down the field and scored and that helped us carry the momentum through the second half," Groves said.
The defense stopped the next Lions drive at the Rangers 25. After Eber kicked the 23-yard field goal with nine minutes left the Lions launched an 18-play drive that started on their own 24 and drove down to the Benton one, but Hunter Moss make a tackle for a one-yard loss on 3rd down and Thomas stopped the runner at the line with five seconds left on 4th-and-goal.
"The defense bent a lot, but didn't break until right there at the half and they didn't get another one in on us," Groves said. "In fact they had another chance at the end and we had a big goal line stand and turned them over. That was a big exclamation point on the game for us." 
Benton 23, Carterville 6 
Carterville 0 6 0 0 -- 6
Benton 7 7 6 3 -- 23
Teams Stats 
First Downs: CTV: 19. BEN: 17. Total Yards: CTV: 279. BEN: 292. Rushing Att-Yds: CTV: 38-117. BEN: 24-160. Passing Comp-Att-Yds: CTV: 16-20-152. BEN: 14-22-132. Penalties: CTV: 11-70. BEN: 12-110. Fumbles-Lost: CTV: 2-2. BEN: 0-0.
Individual Stats 
RUSHING: CTV-Andrew Hellriegel 14-40, Ethan Lannom 12-39, Peyton Bittle 4-36, Townsend Barton 9-2. BEN-Keegan Glover 8-63-1TD, Wyatt Upton 10-42, Landon Bolen 3-32-1TD, Jacob Kinsman 2-18-1TD, Chase Thomas 1-6.
PASSING: CTV-Andrew Hellriegel 16-20-0int-162-1TD. BEN-Keegan Glover 14-22-132-0int-0TD.
RECEIVING: CTV-Townsend Barton 5-47, Peyton Bittle 5-45, Ethan Lannom 3-39, Blake Burkey 2-27. BEN-Chase Thomas 5-55, Reid Baumgarte 4-51, Jacob Kinsman 2-12, Landon Bolen 2-2, Rylan Perkins 1-12.