BENTONVILLE -- Jody Grant pulled his headset off and focused his glare on the middle of the field as the first half clock ticked down to its final seconds.
Bentonville High was in position to pick up key points in a close game, and a 17-yard sack of his quarterback was not the ideal situation to put his kicker in.
Bentonville High 31, Bentonville West 7
West 0 7 0 0 — 7
Bentonville 7 10 0 14 — 31
Bent — Beeler 3 pass from Hughes (Younger kick), 4:15.
Bent — Campbell 52 pass from Hughes (Younger kick), 10:29.
West — Higson 3 pass from Jarrett (McDoulett kick), 3:02.
Bent — FG Younger 43, :00
Bent — Hughes 1 run (Younger kick), 7:44.
Bent — Fetherolf 2 run (Younger kick), 2:37.
"Let's just call it a teachable moment," Grant, the Bentonville coach, said.
Actually it still worked out OK for Grant and the Tigers as Sam Younger crushed the 43-yard kick through the uprights, giving Bentonville a 17-7 lead and all the momentum heading into halftime in what ultimately resulted in a 31-7 win against Bentonville West in the regular season finale at Tiger Stadium.
"I think anytime you get a two-score lead, especially right at the half, it's big," Grant said. "So that was big. It was a big kick by Sam."
Bentonville (7-3, 7-0 7A-West) used the momentum to win its seventh straight game, but more importantly, its third consecutive 7A-West title. The Tigers earned the No. 1 seed from the conference and a bye in next week's first round of the Class 7A state playoffs. West also secured a first-round bye by finishing as the No. 2 seed.
Both teams came into the game riding six-game win streaks, but it was the Tigers who dominated the game almost from start to finish. Bentonville held West to five yards rushing in the first half and constantly brought pressure on Wolverines quarterback Will Jarrett, who missed most of this season with an ankle injury.
"Offensively, we just didn't play very well," West coach Bryan Pratt said. "We have to regroup. It's not the end of the season. We'll be fine. They have a really good football team, but we're a better football team than what we showed tonight."
Bentonville grabbed the early lead, driving 61 yards on its second possession and getting help from a 15-yard pass interference penalty. Tigers' quarterback Easton Hughes, who had a solid game other than the big sack before the half, hit Preston Crawford for 18 yards on fourth down, then found Landon Beeler for the touchdown with 4 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Tigers went up 14-0 in the second quarter when Hughes pump-faked, then hit Harrison Campbell down the middle of the field for a 52-yard touchdown. Even when things went bad for Bentonville, it turned out fine. Two plays before the scoring strike, Crawford fumbled after a big gain, but teammate Zach Lee recovered the ball to keep the drive alive.
West (6-4, 6-1) scored its only points late in the second quarter when Jarrett hit four consecutive completions, the last a 3-yard toss to Jonas Higson for the score that trimmed Bentonville's lead to 14-7.
The Tigers drove 66 yards in 13 plays to take a 17-7 lead when Younger booted the 43-yarder at the halftime horn. Bentonville scored two late fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 1-yard keeper by Hughes, to lock down the league title.
"Conference championships are important for our program," Grant said. "We celebrate those, but that's just a baby step for what our ultimate goal is."
Hughes finished the night 21 of 29 passing for 262 yards, and Crawford rushed for 122 yards on 29 carries.
Sports on 11/03/2018
Print Headline: PREP FOOTBALL: Bentonville locks down 7A-West title