Airline has record night in wild win over Benton

By CHUCK HERRON, Journal Sports 

When the Airline Vikings squared off against the Benton Tigers Friday night at Newman-Mason Field, the two teams had a combined win-loss record of 1-5. 

Someone must have thrown those records out the window. 

The Vikings leapt to a three-touchdown lead midway through the first quarter and exploded to a 75-59 win against Benton to set a school record for points scored.  

Airline’s previous record was 62 points against Green Oaks in 2015. 

Sophomore quarterback Ben Taylor passed for 267 yards and six touchdowns in the first half alone. Taylor finished with seven scoring tosses. One more and he would have tied Evangel’s Dez Duron’s area record of eight touchdown passes. 

Senior wide receiver JoJo Johnson electrified the Airline fans that traveled the eight miles north with an 85-yard kickoff return to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead a mere 12 seconds after Benton senior wide receiver Pearce Russell fired up the Tiger faithful with a 93-yard kickoff that knotted the score at 7-7. 

Then the Tigers decided to make some noise of their own. 

Benton stormed back when Greg Manning raced 42 yards to pay dirt, and then scored again from 14 yards out to cut the Airline lead to 28-20 with 2:40 to play in the first stanza. 

But that’s as close as the Tigers would get. 

The Vikings immediately answered with Taylor’s second touchdown connection with Daxton Chavez, good for 31 yards, to stake the visitors to a 34-20 lead. 

Benton must have been having flashbacks from last week’s high scoring 54-52 loss to Newman (and Arch Manning) when Airline recovered an onside kick (one of a combined six on the night) on the ensuing kickoff, and Taylor found Cameron Jefferson in the end zone to give the Vikings a 40-20 lead. 

But the 106 combined points in the Newman game paled in comparison to the 134 points scored by the two Bossier Parish schools. 

The last time the Vikings played the Tigers in basketball, the score was only 59-48. 

Taylor then connected with Chavez on an 84-yard touchdown reception to create a 47-20 bulge with 6:22 left in the second quarter. 

Benton cut the lead to 47-26 when Greg Manning found the end zone for the third time in the first half. The Tigers attempted and recovered an onside kick at midfield and drove down to the 1-yard line. 

But the Airline defense stiffened, forcing a turnover on downs as the insane first half ended. 

There was much more craziness to come. 

The second half began with Airline promptly marching 83 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a 3-yard touchdown quarterback sneak by Taylor, giving the Vikings an insurmountable 54-26 lead with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. 

Airline’s Mark Engelke intercepted Benton’s Gray Walters on the Tigers next possession, and another Taylor-to-Chavez touchdown connection continued the onslaught as the Vikings led 61-26 with 5:18 left in the third. 

Taylor completed 20-of-31 passes for 372 yards and the seven scores for the Vikes. Chavez caught nine of those for 233 yards and four scores. Tre’ Jackson ran for 173 yards on 15 carries with Kylin Jackson adding another 120 yards on six rushes. 

Lost in all the craziness was Manning’s rushing for 257 yards on 30 carries and four touchdowns. 

Benton will play Byrd at home next week while Airline will host Natchitoches Central in 1-5A action. 

Airline 75, Benton 59 

Score by quarters 

Airline | 28 | 19 | 21 | 7 | – 75 

Benton | 20 | 6 | 7 | 26 | – 59 

Scoring summary, stats will run in Sunday’s edition.  

File photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Staff