MORENCI — It took just 42 seconds for the momentum to shift away from Morenci to Benson.
With one second left to play in the second quarter, Benson’s Carson Barney ran 7 yards to score his second touchdown of the night. He then rushed in the 2-point conversion to give Benson a 14-7 lead.
Coming out of halftime, Barney kicked off to Morenci but hit a squib kick that bounced along the left sideline. Benson’s Nick Redmond fell on the ball, giving the Bobcats possession. On second down, Deondre Villalobos ran 26 yards for the score. Barney’s extra- point try was good to make the score 21-7, and Benson never looked back.
“We executed. (The offensive line) knew they could take on the guys and move them. The trap worked great,” Barney said.
The first quarter looked like it was going to be Morenci’s night. Benson fumbled the ball away on the first play from scrimmage, and Morenci put together a sustained drive that started on the Benson 46. The drive was capped by a 6-yard run to the house by Carlos Bray. Hugo Macinas’ extra-point try was good, and Morenci had a 7-0 lead.
Benson then put together a 67-yard drive that resulted in first-and-goal on the Morenci 1-yard line, but another turnover — a fumble recovered by Morenci — kept Benson off the scoreboard.
A penalty and a sack forced Morenci to punt away the ball; and two plays later, Barney scored his first TD of the night off a 31-yard scamper. The PAT was no good.
“Penalties were a little too much and the first quarter, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit,” said Benson head coach Chris Determan. “Sometimes that happens when you go up against a good team, a physical team that’s strong; the kids get a little too jacked up. We started to figure it out in the second quarter, and the third and fourth quarters we played very, very well.”
In the second half, Benson added to its point tally via a 35-yard pass from Talon Palmer to Diego Nikitas; Barney’s third TD run, this time from 50 yards out; Villalobos’ second rushing TD from 34-yards out; and a 26-yard run by Jace Barney.
In the second half, each Morenci series was limited to four downs or the Wildcats turned the ball over via fumble or interception.
“Everything was in the film; everything they did showed in the film. We just came out flat. Honestly, we just didn’t pay attention enough. That falls on us,” Bray said. “That’s something we can control; that’s something we’re going to fix, I guarantee it.”
Morenci (1-1 overall, 0-0 in region) will be in Willcox (1-1, 0-0) on Friday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.
Benson (2-0, 0-0) opens region play Friday, Sept. 13, on the road at Santa Rita (1-1, 0-0) at 7 p.m.