Slowing down Tigers, not outracing them, keys Gators’ win

FINDING A GAP:  Captain Shreve quarterback Quortni Beaner heads to a hole on the offensive front Thursday night in the Gators’ high-scoring victory over Benton. (Journal photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL)


Considering a team that just posted a school record 65 points and had a running back with his third 200-yard game of the season (tying a school record), you’d be surprised to learn the story of Captain Shreve’s 65-33 win over Benton might have been the Gators’ defense.

Maybe not so much in the first half, but certainly in the second, when Shreve allowed only one score Thursday night in a full-throttle District 1-5A contest at Northwood’s Jerry Burton Stadium.

“We knew they were going to be explosive and we made some good adjustments at halftime,” Shreve coach Adam Kirby said.

All the Gators really needed was a defensive stop or two because it was pretty obvious that the offense wasn’t planning on taking any time off. In fact, the only thing that stopped Shreve all night was Shreve. A fumble late in the second quarter was the only thing that kept the Gators from scoring on every possession.

The punting team had the night off.

And they can thank Quortni Beaner and Jamarlon Otis for that. Otis had 242 yards on 26 carries and had scoring runs of 14 and 60.

But it was Beaner who kept finding his way into the end zone with runs of 1, 17, 4 and 17 and tossed in a 59-yard scoring pass to Jordan Wiggins for good measure.

The senior quarterback ran 23 times for 143 yards and once he smelled the end zone, there was no stopping him.

“I give all the credit to the offensive line,” Beaner said. “They take care of everything in the box and all I have to do is make one person miss.”

Benton went toe-to-toe with the Gators throughout the first half. Running back Greg Manning needed 77 yards to break the school record and he almost did it on the first play, going 64 yards before being caught from behind.

“I had told him during the day that we might as well get it over with,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said.

But that run represented about half of the yards Manning got for the rest of the night on his other 20 carries as he finished with 118 yards.

“I think that speaks to resolve of our kids,” Kirby said. “A lot of high school kids would have panicked after that situation. But our kids never flinched and played hard the whole game.”

Jeff King found Trey Smith for a 15-yard score to get Benton on the board first but Shreve responded 10-play drive that ended with a 1-yard run by Beaner. That drive was kept alive by a roughing the kicker call against Benton on John Chance’s 47-yard field goal.

From there, the ping-pong game of scores went on throughout the half. In the seven combined possessions in the second quarter, there were scores on six of them (five touchdowns and a field goal.

But in the second half, it was all Shreve.

“They did a real good job of making adjustments in the second half,” Moore said. “They are bigger than us so we had to be quicker. But we couldn’t get to where we needed to be.”

King was 10 of 26 for 194 yards and four touchdowns with Smith catching all four scores to go along with his 136-yard receiving night.

The win clinches at least a share of the district title for Shreve (8-1, 6-0), but Kirby said his team wasn’t going to be in a sharing mood. “We don’t want to share it with anybody,” he said.

They’ll clinch the outright title with a win at Haughton next week to close the regular season.

Benton’s loss snaps a three-game winning streak. The Tigers are now 4-5 and will play at home against Parkway in the final game of the regular season.

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Benton            6          20        7          0       – 33  

Shreve            13        17        14        21        – 65 

B – Trey Smith 15 pass from Jeff King (kick failed) 

CS – Quortni Beaner 1 run (John Chance kick) 

CS – Beaner 17 run (run failed) 

CS – Chance 28 FG 

B – Smith 47 pass from King (Petro kick) 

CS – Jamarlon Otis 14 run (Chance kick) 

B – King 5 run (Petro kick) 

CS – Otis 60 run (Chance kick) 

B – Smith 42 pass from King (run failed) 

CS – Jordan Wiggins 59 pass from Beaner (Chance kick) 

B – Smith 17 pass from King (Petro kick) 

CS – Beaner 4 run (Chance kick) 

CS – Beaner 17 run (Chance kick) 

CS – Javen Thomas 16 run (Chance kick) 

CS – Antonio Thornton 20 run (Chance kick) 

RUSHING – BHS (29-133), Manning 21-118, King 7-25; Zeiger 1-minus10. CS (60-440), Otis 26-242, 2 TDs; Beaner 23-143, 4 TDs; Thornton 3-37, 1 TD; Thomas 1-16, 1 TD; Kiarron Brossett 2-6. 

PASSING – BHS, King 10-26-0-194, 4 TDs; Malachi Zeigler 0-1-0. CS, Beaner 4-7-0-87, 1 TD. 

RECEIVING – BHS, Smith 5-136, 4 TDs; Jackson Jones 2-28; Cody Wilhite 1-12; Zane Stevens 1-18; CS, Wiggins 1-59, 1 TD; Otis 1-12; Keaton Flowers 2-16.