BENTON -- It was an emotional night for the Benton Rangers last Friday as the school hosted Military Appreciation Night on the heels of 9/11 and in honor of recently fallen soldier and former Ranger, Brandon Pinson (killed in Iraq).
Whether they intended to or not, Benton rolled to a 52-0 nonleague victory.
"It was the closest thing to a playoff atmosphere with 1,000 Benton fans there," said Benton head coach Justin Groves said. "Brandon wore number 52 and it turned out there were so many 52s Friday night. We had 52 flags around Tabor Field. We scored 52 points and won the game by 52 points. And on Saturday, Mia McLain, our star cross country runner, ran at Detweiller Park and her number was 52. It was unbelievable."
The 52 points was the most for the Rangers since scoring 53 against Massac County in 2017 and fifth most since 2004 behind 62 points against Sparta in 2012, 59 points against Murphysboro in 2004 and 56 points against Sparta in 2011.
The Panthers, meanwhile, fall to 0-3 with the loss and just couldn't get any offense going against Benton on this night.
The Rangers jumped out to a 22-0 lead in the first quarter on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Keegan Glover to Ayden Newcomb, a 35-yard touchdown again to Newcomb from Peyton Bayless and a 1-yard run by Tyler Butler.
Benton expanded its lead to 44-0 in the second quarter on touchdown runs of 24 and 50 yards by Glover and a seven-yard touchdown pass from Glover to Quinn Gajewski.
The Rangers opened the second half with Glover throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass to Newcomb. Newcomb had four catches for 129 yards and three touchdowns.
The Benton defense forced two turnovers -- one fumble and one interception -- while holding the Panthers to 77 total yards. The Rangers have held to opposition to 3.3 yards a carry and a 20.3 completion rate.
"The turnover battle is one of our goals each week and we've won that battle this week," Groves said.
The Rangers gained 386 total yards on offense. Glover completed 6-of-8 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 97 yards on four carries with two touchdowns. For the season the sophomore has seven touchdown passes with just one interception while completing 69.4 percent. He also has 136 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
The Panthers will try to turn things around this Friday when they host winless Sparta.