Prep Football

Defending 2A champion PCM still defending after first-round win over Benton Community

Mustangs move on to Class 2A quarterfinals with 34-8 win

Benton Community’s football team huddles one last time in the 2019 season. (Jeff Johnson/The Gazette)
Benton Community’s football team huddles one last time in the 2019 season. (Jeff Johnson/The Gazette)

VAN HORNE — When you switch quarterbacks multiple times in a season, that season usually isn’t going to be very good.

But for Monroe PCM, it has worked quite the opposite. The Mustangs have shuffled their QBs around, and they’re in the Class 2A quarterfinals.

Sage Burns ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw for another, as his 10th-ranked team powered past No. 6 Benton Community, 34-8, Friday night in a state playoff first-rounder at soggy Bobcats Stadium. Sophomore running back Aidan Anderson added 163 yards rushing and two scores, as PCM (8-2) continues defending its 2A title from a year ago, with almost an entirely new cast of players.

“We knew we had a strong up-front presence, and we felt we could dominate both sides of the ball,” Burns said.

Which the Mustangs did, outgaining Benton (8-2) by a 476-141 margin, controlling the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively.

“We knew that they were very, very good up front,” said Benton Community Coach Jeff Zittergruen. “Watching them on film, their front four is probably as good as we’ve seen all year long. They played that part tonight. They definitely controlled the line of scrimmage both ways, and made things tough up there for us.”

Burns began this season as PCM’s starting signal caller, got replaced after a loss in Week 2 and moved to running back, only to return to quarterback for last week’s regular-season finale. His pass over the middle to a wide-open Gatlin Boell went for an 81-yard TD that put PCM on top late in the first quarter, 7-0.

Burns ended up throwing for 194 yards and rushing for 108.

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“I think being a running back helped me sit back and realize what is happening with the offense better than I did in the first part of the year,” he said.

PCM held a 14-0 halftime lead and put the game away in the third quarter with touchdown runs of a yard by Burns and 28 by Anderson. Benton’s only touchdown came early in the fourth on an 18-yard TD pass from Clay Krousie to Turner Schroeder, in which Schroeder outjumped three defenders for a 50-50 ball in the end zone.

Krousie followed with a two-point pass to Cade Timmerman. Averaging 253 yards passing in the regular season, the senior had just 60 here.

Benton’s offense could just never seem to find a rhythm.

“When we started going up tempo at the end of the game is when things finally started to click,” Schroeder said. “They couldn’t catch up to us. Just quick routes. They couldn’t really stop us.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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