Benton ran its win streak to six -- qualified for the playoffs -- and beat Harrisburg 30-7 Friday night at Tabor Field for the Rangers' Homecoming.
Benton (6-0 overall, 3-0 in SIRR Ohio) put up a pair of first half touchdowns to take a 14-0 halftime lead as senior quarterback Keegan Glover hooked up with Reid Baumgarte on a 28-yard pass play and Glover closed out the first quarter with a 28-yard run of his own.
Benton head coach Justin Groves noted his team had a close first half last week against West Frankfort. A game that the Rangers led 6-0 at half and went on to post a 41-0 victory.
"Tonight was a total team effort," Groves said. "Our offensive line was fantastic and this team can win in multiple ways. We bend, but don't break and Harrisburg is a really good football team. A lot better than they were last year and are much improved and very well coached."
Harrisburg scratched and clawed their way back into the ballgame as Vaundre McIntosh picked off Glover in the end zone in the third quarter, setting up a 80-yard drive that was highlighted by Ben Gulley's 42-yard bomb into the arms of Ross Rider, cutting the deficit to seven as the third quarter expired.
Harrisburg (4-2, 2-1) was able to come away with a Benton fumble at their own 8-yard line, but a couple of penalties pushed the Bulldogs back to the 2-yard line, where Wyatt Upton saved Gulley in the end zone for a safety and pushing Benton's lead to 16-7 with 9:15 left to go.
Harrisburg head coach Matt Griffith noted that the safety -- although not game defining -- did take the wind out of his teams sails.
"We continue to tell these guys that if you want to be a great team, it takes playing four quarters and we're still struggling to ignite that in the first half. We were always in the fight and these guys never laid down.
Benton then rattled off a handful of scores to close out the game as Glover foundBaumgarte from 35-yards out with 7:34 to play and Jacob Kinsman bulled his way in from 1-yard out with 15.2 to play.
Benton racked up 469 yards of total offense, limiting Harrisburg to just 156 as the Rangers had 25 first downs to seven for the Bulldogs.
Glover finished with 251 yards on 17-of-20 passing with two touchdowns and an interception.
On the ground, Kinsman led the rushing attack with 68 yards on 11 carries, while Landon Bolen had eight carries for 58 yards. Wyatt Upton had 56 yards on 11 carries and Glover netted 43 yards on seven carries.
In the air, Baumgarte had 130 yards on eight receptions, while Zach Howell had six catches for 73 yards.
Harrisburg was led by Rider's 72 yards receiving and he added 31 on the ground. Bryant Lester had 33 yards on nine carries. Gulley passed for 82 yards on 5-of-11 with one touchdown.
Benton will host Massac County Friday on Senior Night. Harrisburg will host the third conference unbeaten, Murphysboro. The Red Devils had this past Friday night off as their game with West Frankfort was canceled.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.