VAN BUREN -- Jack Boettcher crashed through the Van Buren offensive line and grabbed the quarterback, forcing an early fumble that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Boettcher and the Bentonville High defense forced three turnovers and returned an interception for a touchdown in the Tigers' 44-0 shutout win Friday night at Blakemore Field in 7A-West Conference action.
Bentonville High 44, Van Buren 0
Bentonville 3 20 21 0 — 44
Van Buren 0 0 0 0 — 0
Bent — FG Younger 43, 3:52.
Bent — Ried 5 run (Younger kick), 11:57.
Bent — Campbell 80 punt return (Younger kick), 2:46.
Bent — Bennett 65 interception return (Run failed), 2:18.
Bent — Lee 50 pass from Hughes (Younger kick), 10:24.
Bent — Crawford 68 run (Younger kick), 7:36.
Bent — Smith 33 pass from Hughes (Nimrod kick), 2:02.
The win was Bentonville's second mercy-rule triumph in as many weeks and established the Tigers (2-3, 2-0) firmly atop the 7A-West standings.
"Our game plan was to keep their quarterback contained and keep him in the pocket," Boettcher said. "I just tried to keep him contained and let the linebackers do their job."
Bentonville seized control of the game in the second quarter by scoring 20 points, holding Van Buren's potent offense to just 121 total yards. The Pointers (2-3, 1-1) finished with 245 yards of total offense with a lot of that coming after the 35-point mercy rule was invoked in the third quarter.
Tigers coach Jody Grant said his defense was the difference.
"We have a good defense," Grant said. "We are fast and we're able to do some good things. I know they didn't score points tonight, but on the film we've seen, that's a good offense. That's a good receiving corps, that's a good quarterback, they do some good stuff. So I'm proud of our kids because they present some challenges with what they do offensively and our kids bought into what our plan was and executed it great."
Bentonville started slowly with fumbles on its first two possessions after moving deep inside Van Buren territory before finally getting on the scoreboard on Sam Younger's 43-yard field goal with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Tigers finally put together a successful touchdown drive late in the quarter, marching 55 yards in 8 plays. Reserve running back Colby Ried, who finished with 79 yards on 9 carries, keyed the drive with a 21-yard burst to the Van Buren 35, then capped the possession with a 5-yard touchdown run with 11:57 left in the half and a 10-0 lead.
Bentonville scored twice more in the second quarter, but the offense did not account for either touchdown. After the Tigers forced a Van Buren punt, Harrison Campbell ignored a crowd around the ball and caught the Pointers' punt at his own 20. Campbell found an open lane down the visitor's sideline and got excellent downfield blocking to complete the 80-yard punt return.
"That was big at the time," Grant said. "He's a pretty special guy back there. He does some great things and he gave us a little more of the mojo on our side."
The Tigers' defense also got in on the scoring on Van Buren's next possession when Levi Bennett stepped in front of a Christian Morrow pass and returned the interception 65 yards to the house to extend Bentonville's lead to 23-0.
Field position was a huge factor as Van Buren's average starting field position was inside its own 20 for most of the game, while Bentonville's was its own 38. That was especially true to start the second half as Bentonville's kickoff team swarmed the Pointers inside their own 5 to start the third quarter. That was key as the Tigers forced a quick punt and Easton Hughes found Zach Lee on a 50-yard touchdown strike.
It was a repeat performance on the next kickoff when the Tigers tackled the Van Buren return man at his own 12. Although the Pointers did manage one first down on that drive, the Tigers got the ball back and Preston Crawford bolted 68 yards on the first play after a Van Buren punt to extend Bentonville's lead to 37-0 and the mercy rule was invoked. Crawford, who fumbled twice early, bounced back to finish the night with 10 carries for 132 yards.
Hughes played turnover-free for the Tigers and was 11 of 18 passing for 175 yards and fired another touchdown strike to Dylan Smith who climbed over a Van Buren defender to haul in the 33-yard scoring pass to cap the scoring.
Bentonville travels to Rogers Heritage next week, and Van Buren is at Fayetteville.
Sports on 09/29/2018
Print Headline: PREP FOOTBALL: Bentonville blanks Van Buren