By Brandon Speck
BOONEVILLE – Booneville has only seven seniors. One with the flu wasn’t available Friday night.
After a grueling 16-8 win over upstart co-op Benton County, the green Blue Devils have six wins, too, including a 3-0 start to Division 1-3A.
“This group has gotten better and better as we’ve come along,” Booneville coach Mike Mattox said. “We had some kids step up tonight.”
One of them was junior quarterback Preston Stroupe, who had to grind his way to 79 tough yards on 13 carries. He scored twice, the final one from 11 yards out set up by Jarius Crump’s pick at his own 25. It also featured a fierce closeout block from senior receiver Tyrese Bell.
A Booneville (6-2, 3-0) win at Belmont would likely set up a season finale and division title match on Oct. 30 here against Kossuth.
Benton County (5-3, 2-1) lead 8-0 after a quarter after a fake punt – upback Ian Cauthern went 35 yards to the Booneville 3 – and touchdown pass from Richard Brooks to Quavie Agekyum in the first quarter.
“We’ve just got to get it going on offense. We’re doing good for the first time in division,” said Benton’s Rodriquez Reeves.
Weston Coggin’s 29-yard field goal got Booneville on the board. Before Stroupe’s one-yard touchdown, Benton County jumped before the snap on fourth-and-1 at their own 16.
Turning Point: Booneville sophomore DB Jarius Crump picked a tipped pass at his own 25 in the fourth quarter to halt a drive that could have put driving Benton ahead.
Point Man: Booneville leading rusher, freshman Dallas Gamble has 69 yards on 10 carries.
Talking Point: “Their defense was really good. They have so many athletes on defense.” – Booneville QB Preston Stroupe
• The teams traded fumbles on the first two possessions. Benton County recovered its own fumble on its ensuing play.
• Booneville DE Kevin Patterson recovered a fumble to ice the win.
• Benton County LB Keenan Hamer was carried off by ambulance to Baptist Memorial Hospital early in the fourth quarter.