PREP FOOTBALL: Russell, Panthers throttle Wildcats

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EL DORADO -- Benton's Braylen Russell rushed for two touchdowns and added a receiving touchdown Friday night in the Panthers' 56-7 win.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Davis completed 9 of 12 passes for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half. Russell, who has committed to the University of Arkansas, had 10 rushes for 97 yards in the half.

"They've got some weapons," El Dorado Coach Chris Hill said. "That quarterback is just a sophomore. He's a good-looking kid and of course the big Braylen Russell kid. They're a good football team. We knew that coming in. They definitely proved what we thought."

The Wildcats (2-2, 1-2) opened the game with a 10-play drive to the Benton 18. But Mitchell Polk's pass on third and 9 was intercepted by the Panthers' Jesse Pepper.

Benton went on a 73-yard drive capped by Davis' 10-yard scoring pass to Russell. Garrett Honeycutt kicked the first of his eight extra points for a 7-0 lead with 5:31 left in the first.

After the Wildcats went three-and-out, Davis connected with Bronson Coolis for a 38-yard touchdown with 2:53 left in the first.

El Dorado scored two plays later when Polk threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Jamari Robinson. Cooper Henry's PAT cut the margin to 14-7 with 2:13 left still in the first quarter.

The Wildcats' celebration was short-lived. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Panthers faked to Russell and Maddox Davis took a quick toss on a jet sweep, cut it up field and raced 80 yards for the touchdown and a 21-7 advantage.

Benton scored again on a fourth-and-10 play when Drew Davis threw a backward pass to Maddox Davis, who hit a wide-open Elias Payne for an 18-yard touchdown with 11:42 left in the second quarter.

The Wildcats fumbled to kill a nine-play drive. Benton took over at the 31 and Drew Davis hit a slant to Payne, who raced 69 yards to the end zone as the lead swelled to 35-7 with 7:47 left in the half.

The Wildcats came back with another eight-play drive but had to punt after three straight incompletions. The Panthers took over at their 49. Russell had three successive carries for 22 yards. After Davis hit Will Carter for 8 yards, Russell broke three tackles on his way to a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left in the second quarter.

After the Wildcats went three-and-out, Benton marched 55 yards in five plays. Russell carried for 13, 5 and 19 yards before scoring on an 18-yard run with five seconds left in the half.

"It's hard to say and I don't want to say too much before I watch the film. Sometimes you think you see some things. It was disappointing," Hill said.

"We never could get them in a punting situation. Even right before halftime, we needed one first down to at least keep the ball for the rest of the first half and not give it back to them. We fail to convert and had to punt it ,and they go down and score with five seconds left. It was bad enough. It made it go from bad to worse."

Benton scored on the first drive of the third quarter with Cline Hooten throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Coolis with 7:30 left in the third quarter.

Polk completed 6 of -16 passes for 106 yards. Robinson had two receptions for 96 yards.

El Dorado has surrendered 106 points in home losses to Marion and Benton, which Hill said could end up being two of the better teams in the 6A-East.

"I think they are. I think they're two of the best ones," he said.

"I think we have a chance. We certainly want to learn from it. We don't want to dwell on it and get ourselves down. We certainly have to learn from our mistakes. Hopefully we've got a chance here, maybe a chance to get on a roll and win a few. We've got a good Searcy team this week and then we come back home with a really good West Memphis team and then we go to Sheridan and then back to Sylvan Hills. Hopefully, we can do some good things. Main thing I want to do with the kids is stay close, keep encouraging each other. Don't start pointing fingers. That's not good and I don't think our kids will do that."