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BENTON -- Coming off a state title, the Arkadelphia Badgers were wondering what was wrong after dropping their first two games en route to an 0-5 start.

A year later, and coming off a second straight Class 4A title, the Badgers (2-0) are in a better state of mind. On Friday night they disposed of their second straight Class 6A team as they rallied past the Benton Panthers 33-20.

"We wanted to be committed to having a better start,'' said Arkadelphia coach J.R. Eldridge. "It's week one, and we just had week zero, but a football season is a whole body of work."

That body of work that started last season has produced a 10-game winning streak for the Badgers, who trailed 14-7 until a drive late in the first half made it 14-13 at thre break.

"That was huge," said Eldridge. "We came out on fire in the first quarter and got away from that. Then I feel like we kinda got back to that."

The Badgers scored easily on their first drive with Kyren Harrison scoring on a 31-yard run at the 9:45 mark.

It stayed that was until an Austin Drewry interception set Benton at the Badger 39. The score came on a 5-yard pass from Garrett Brown to Braden Murdock with 25 second left in the quarter.

After Cannon Turner's 68-yard punt pinned the Panthers at the 2, Benton (0-2) answered with a 13-play, 98-yard drive to take the lead. Gavin Wells, on a halfback pass, hit a wide-open Jaden Nash for a 20-yard scoring pass on fourth down. Bryan Araujo made it 14-7.

Harrison got his second score of the night on a 2-yard run with 1:02 left in the half. The PAT was missed to put Benton up 14-13 at the half.

Benton's last big moment came when Wells grabbed a tunnel screen from Brown and went 82 yards for the score just two plays into the second half. The PAT was blocked by Jason Campbell leaving it 20-13.

"We challenged each other in the locker room, and what we talked about was putting on more steam and coming out in the second half and really wanting it and being the team that plays the hardest and executes the best,'' said Eldridge. "I think our players really did a good job of coming out and having that burning desire to make plays. And that is what they did.

Braeden Thomas, who had a 14-yard reception in the drive, scored on a 15-yard run. The Badgers missed the try for 2 and still trailed 20-19 with 8:11 left in the third quarter.

A blindside hit on Brown not only knocked the Benton quarterback out of the game but forced a fumble that Rickey Rogers recovered and returned to the Benton 35. Turner scored on a 13-yard run six plays later and it was 25-20 after the Badgers again missed the 2-point run.

Thomas added his second score on a 41-yard run around end with 13 seconds left in the third quarter. Harrison ran in the two-pointer.

Sports on 09/07/2019

Print Headline: Badgers take down Benton on road

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