Prep Football

Benton takes a giant step toward the playoffs

Balanced attack, stingy defense leads Bobcats past West Marshall, 34-13

VAN HORNE — They ran. They passed. They defended.

They rolled.

Hard-nosed and balanced, the seventh-ranked Benton Bobcats whipped No. 5 West Marshall, 34-13, in a Class 2A District 7 football game Friday night at Bobcat Stadium.

“Our line dominated on both sides of the ball up front,” said Benton quarterback Clayton Krousie, who passed for three first-half touchdowns. “We thought we could handle them up front, and they gave me time to throw.”

Benton (7-1 overall, 3-1 district) scored on its first three drives, on marches of 66, 84 and 76 yards on its way to a 20-6 halftime advantage.

Credit the Bobcats’ defense, too. West Marshall (6-2, 3-1) entered the game averaging 33.4 points per game, but didn’t muster much after its first drive of the game.

“We made adjustments,” lineman Easton Werner said. “We talked about staying disciplined. (The Trojans) like to get their quarterback (Cameron Bannister) outside the pocket, so we wanted to keep him in the middle of the field.

“We have a lot of hustlers on this team, a lot of people that put in the effort. We feel like Benton gets underestimated, so it’s nice to prove a point.”

Benton concludes the regular season next week at home against Vinton-Shellsburg. A win will almost assuredly put the Bobcats in the 2A playoffs.

They certainly looked the part Friday. The part of a complete team.

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Krousie completed 13 of 17 passes for 168 yards to engineer a remarkably balanced attack. Matt Davis rushed for 139 yards (on 23 carried) and scored both of the Bobcats’ fourth-quarter touchdowns.

All told, Benton accumulated 333 yards — 165 rushing, 168 passing.

Both teams marched down the field for touchdowns on their opening drives. The play of the game came on fourth-and-21 from the West Marshall 22 on Benton’s second series. Krousie hooked up with Nathan Michels for a touchdown and a 14-6 advantage.

“Nathan went up for it and made me look good,” Krousie said.

Benton got a stop on the next Trojans possession, then Krousie located Michels again for a 6-yard touchdown.

Davis’ two TDs extended the margin to 34-6 before West Marshall managed a late score.

West Marshall hosts district leader Union Community next week. A Trojans win — assuming Benton takes care of business — would force a three-way tie for the district crown.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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