VAN BUREN Van Buren used an efficient offense to cut through a driving rainstorm Friday, blasting Benton 41-14 at Blakemore Field in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
The Pointers (7-4) won a playoff game for the first time since capturing the Class AAAA title in 1996.
Senior quarterback Tyler Spoon led a precision attack that piled up 409 yards offense. He was 10 of 12 passing for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a perfect 7 of 7 in the first half as Van Buren built a 20-0 halftime lead.
“We wanted to come out and get on them and get them in the mode of catchup,” Van Buren Coach Mike Lee said. “Offensively, the first half was a very good half. Defensively, we were consistent all night long.”
The Panthers (3-8) had 314 yards offense but struggled putting together scoring drives.
It was 27-0 before Benton finally scored with 1:36 left in the third quarter on Wallace Foote’s 5-yard run. The Panthers drove 45 yards after a short punt.
Spoon, who had passed 48 yards to Joseph Snapp for a touchdown earlier in the third quarter, added a 6-yard touchdown pass to Drew White with 44 seconds left in the quarter to extend the lead to 34-7 and essentially put the game away.
Reserve running back Anthony Gibbons ran 44 yards for a 41-7 lead with 4:03 remaining.
Benton’s Tammario Beaugard closed the scoring with a 6-yard run with 45 seconds left.
“We’re very young,” Benton Coach Scott Neathery said. “All year long we’ve had a problem finishing drives. There were a couple times tonight I thought we had a good drive and then we’d shoot ourselves in the foot.
“Van Buren’s defense stepped up and did a good job against us.”
Spoon ran 18 yards for a touchdown on the game’s second play.
The Pointers drove 50 yards on their next possession before stalling at the Benton 6. Jeremy Martin kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
Jacob Jenkins, who ran 14 times for 141 yards, had a 30-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to push the margin to 17-0.
Martin added a 28-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the first half for a 20-0 lead.