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Special teams help Bentonville West roll over Rogers Heritage

by ETHAN WESTERMAN SPECIAL TO THE NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | October 23, 2021 at 2:43 a.m.

CENTERTON -- After bobbling a kickoff due to miscommunication with his teammate, Bentonville West's Braden Jones scrambled to try and make the most of what looked to be a bleak situation.

It turned out just fine 99 yards later down the home sideline.

The kick return for a touchdown was his second in two weeks as the Wolverines scored three touchdowns on special team alone en route to a 55-7 win over Rogers Heritage on Friday night at Wolverine Stadium.

"We weren't really 100 percent sure who was going to get it," Jones said of the play. "It was definitely some miscommunication. I realized I probably shouldn't have picked it up and should've just let it go into the end zone. I just happened to have an opening, so it ended up working out perfectly.

"We spend a lot of time and effort on special teams," Bentonville West Coach Bryan Pratt said. "That's a phase of the game that a lot of people don't put emphasis on like we do. When you get some scores on special teams, it's a dagger."

The two other Wolverine scores in that phase of the game came from junior Nick Bell. A scoop-and-score off a blocked punt in the first quarter just wasn't enough for Bell.

On the opening kickoff of the second half, he sprinted 87 yards to put an exclamation mark on an already stellar performance.

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"We were in a dog fight last week against Har-Ber," Bell said. "We knew that tonight we wanted to take every opportunity and make the most of it. Our team puts a big emphasis on special teams, so I just was doing my part."

There was one aspect of special teams the Wolverines (5-3, 3-2 7A-West) didn't get a chance to practice in the win. Bentonville West scored on all but one possession, picking up 16 first downs with zero punts.

"That's probably the one special team we work more on than any others," Pratt said with a smile. "We're proud of the way our offense played. I thought we came out and executed well."

Sophomore quarterback Jake Casey came out of the gates hot. He tossed three touchdowns in the first quarter alone and got to rest the entire second half. Casey went 6-of-9 passing for 108 yards and three scores.

Along with Bell's two special teams scores, he also caught a 44-yard laser from Casey for another touchdown.

Junior back Carson Morgan had 15 carries for 145 yards and a score to pace the Wolverine ground game.

"We didn't get a whole lot of snaps, so it was hard to get some of these guys touches," Pratt said. "I'm really proud of the way we battled and had that mentality of, 'it's not about me, it's about the team.' "

Leading the way for Rogers Heritage (0-8, 0-5) was Eli Craig, who had the team's lone score and gained 108 yards on the ground on 23 touches.

Bentonville West tallied 361 yards of offense and held the War Eagles to only 215.

"Our emphasis this week was to make sure we play at the level we want to play at every week," Pratt said. "Our kids came out and did that, and just continue to get better. Last week we had a little fire going into the game against Har-Ber and it carried over into tonight. Hopefully we'll continue to do that throughout the season."

Print Headline: Bentonville West uses special teams

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