BENTONVILLE -- It was the scoring opportunity Ben Pankau had wanted for quite some time.
Bentonville High's junior free safety jumped in front of a Rogers High receiver, and he returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown as the Tigers went on to post a 35-14 victory over the Mounties during 7A-West Conference football action at Tiger Stadium.
BENTONVILLE HIGH 35, ROGERS HIGH 14
Rogers 0 7 7 0 — 14
Bentonville 7 14 7 7 — 35
Bent — Beeler 43 pass from Hughes (Nimrod kick), 4:52.
Bent — Fetherolf 50 run (Nimrod kick), 11:19.
Rogers — Zamarron 16 pass from Loyd (Vasquez kick), 6:08.
Bent — Fetherolf 5 run (Nimrod kick), 2:26.
Bent — Ried 13 run (Nimrod kick), 3:00.
Rogers — Ross 49 pass from Loyd (Vasquez kick), 1:17.
Bent — Pankau 52 interception return (Nimrod kick), 11:15.
"I just read the quarterback's eyes and jumped the route," Pankau said. "I made a play and helped the team out.
"I've been waiting for a pick-six my whole career. I've had a couple of picks before, but this one was special. It means a lot."
Pankau's interception, the second of three Bentonville (5-3, 5-0) recorded, killed any momentum Rogers (1-6, 0-5) had as the fourth quarter started. The Mounties had cut the Tigers' lead to 28-14 on Hunter Loyd's 49-yard touchdown pass to Mason Ross with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the third quarter, and they had the ball on their 33 to start the fourth quarter after forcing a Bentonville punt.
Rogers tried to make it a closer game three plays later, but Loyd's pass to Ross down the left sideline was slightly overthrown as he raced behind a Bentonville defender. On the next play, Pankau stepped in front of the intended receiver for the interception and raced down the right sideline for the score with 11:15 remaining.
"It could have been a seven-point game," Rogers coach Mike Loyd said. "This score doesn't indicate how close this game was. It was a fight, and it was a physical game.
"We just need to learn to make some plays when it counts. We had that chance to make it a one-score game. Our defense makes a stop, then we fumble on the next play. We can't do things like that and be a good football team."
Bentonville built a 21-7 halftime lead as Easton Hughes threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Landon Beeler, while backup running back Noah Fetherolf ran for two more scores despite Rogers' attempt to crowd the box and slow down the Tigers' ground game.
Feltheroff, who finished with 18 carries for 144 yards, bolted 50 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the second quarter, then followed Rogers' first score -- a 16-yard touchdown pass from Loyd to Sammy Zamarron -- with a 5-yard touchdown run. Colby Ried had Bentonville's other score with his 13-yard touchdown run with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
"I'm proud that we won, but I'm not proud of the way our guys played," Bentonville coach Jody Grant said. "We've got to get that cleaned up if we're going to continue to win football games.
"I think everybody sees Rogers' record and thinks this is going to be a cakewalk. I've got news for people that are going to be playing this team -- that's a talented group and they do good things. It was a battle for us. They put a lot of people up in the box, and we still tried to run against them. We felt we could and felt we needed to, and that wasn't the case."
Sports on 10/20/2018
Print Headline: PREP FOOTBALL: Pankau's interception secures Bentonville victory