FORT SMITH -- A two-minute span in the middle of the second quarter was all Bentonville needed to turn a close game into a runaway.
The Tigers scored three touchdowns in that time to turn a tie game into a commanding lead en route to a 35-7 victory over Fort Smith Southside on Friday at Rowland Stadium in a 7A-West Conference matchup.
Bentonville (5-0, 2-0) finished with 444 yards of offense (264 passing, 180 rushing).
"We want to be a balanced offense. I think that is important," Bentonville Coach Jody Grant said. "Our goal tonight was to establish the run. We have two really talented backs, so we want to be more consistent running the football."
The Tigers took the lead on a 40-yard pass from Andrew Edwards to Cooper Smith with 6:13 left in the second period. Bentonville marched 87 yards in nine plays despite a pair of holding calls.
On the first play after the kickoff, Zane Ochoa picked off a Southside pass and ran 29 yards for the touchdown and a 21-7 lead at the 5:58 mark.
Bentonville then went for an onside kick and recovered at its 47.
Eight plays later, Josh Ficklin turned a fourth and 1 into a 29-yard touchdown run for a 28-7 Tigers' lead with 4:22 left before halftime. Ficklin had 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16 carries.
"We felt like we needed to do something to swing the momentum," Grant said of the onside kick. "We took a chance, and we were fortunate to get it. I believe our kids did play better from that point on."
Southside (1-4, 0-1) could not overcome that stretch.
"The biggest frustration with this team is that in stretches, we can play with a team like Bentonville," first-year Mavericks Coach Kim Dameron said. "That is a good football team over there. They will compete for a 7A state championship. But just like last week, we have some positives to build on.
"When we execute and don't shoot ourselves in the foot, we've proven that in spurts we can play with anyone on our schedule."
It was the Tigers that stumbled early as a 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked, and Southside's A.J. Williams scooped up the ball and returned it 60 yards to the Bentonville 20. Luke Wyatt scored three plays later to put the Mavericks ahead 7-0 with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
"We get a stop, block the kick and get an early score. You could not script a better start for us to get some early momentum," Dameron said.
From there, Bentonville would begin to assert control at the line of scrimmage.
The Tigers marched 55 yards in 12 plays, capped by Ficklin's 2-yard run with 23 seconds left in the first quarter for a 7-7 tie.
"Sometimes, we need something like [the blocked field goal] to get our attention," Grant said. "We better bring our A-game every night because we are going to get our opponents' best shot."
BENTONVILLE 35, FS SOUTHSIDE 7
Bentonville (5-0, 2-0) ^7 ^21 ^7 ^0^—^35
Greenwood (1-4, 0-1) ^7 ^0 ^0 ^0^—^7
SOUTH – Wyatt 2 run (DeLassus kick), 6:21.
BENT – Ficklin 2 run (Turner kick), :23.
BENT – Smith 40 pass from Edwards (Turner kick), 6:13.
BENT – Ochoa 29 interception return (Turner kick), 5:58.
BENT – Ficklin 29 run (Turner kick), 4:33.
BENT – Smith 8 pass from Edwards (Turner kick), 10:01.