BENSON — The Jerry P. Lee Athletics Complex was rocking here Friday and the Benson Bobcats did not disappoint.
Carson Barney scored three touchdowns, including one from 95-yards, one of three scoring runs for the senior running back, to help stake the Bobcats to a 54-6 win over San Manuel.
It was clear early on the Bobcats’ offensive line would be up to task, powering the openings for running backs Barney and D’Ondre Villalobos and fullback Skylar Fox, completely dominating the line of scrimmage.
The Bobcats gained 315 yards led by Barney’s 122 yards on five carries averaging nearly 25 yards a carry. Fox rushed for 67 yards on three carries and Villalobos for 66 yards on six carries with a touchdown. Devin Bowling would add a 31-yard touchdown run and Diego Nikitas scored on a first-quarter, sideline pattern strike from quarterback Talon Palmer. Nikitas toed the end zone sideline to stay well in bounds to record the Bobcats’ first touchdown of the season which gave Benson the lead it would not relinquish.
Palmer completed three of six pass attempts for 48 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Nikitas brought down a pair of receptions for 30 yards to lead Benson as the Bobcats accrued 363 yards total offense.
Colton McFarland and Bowling recorded six tackles to help pace a defensive unit that was quick to the ball and superior on the line. Fox, Bowling, Ryan Francione and Anthony Grassi recorded sacks and Bowling and Jimmy Lerblance an interception each.
San Manuel moved the ball in spurts behind an effective pass game behind quarterback Caleb Quintero and a crew of able receivers. The Bobcats’ defensive front, quick crew of linebackers and a secondary credited with three passes defended, one in the end zone, made the stops when they needed them.
A 21-point third quarter, right off the heels of a 19-point second period, secured the non-region game safely into the win column. Benson led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 26-0 at the half and 47-0 through three. The Miners scored in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Chris Determan although pleased by the win, pointed out there is much football left to be played.
“It’s always a positive with a win but there is always work to do moving forward,” the coach said. “We can’t be complacent and be satisfied with a win in week one, we must want to get better and continue to improve.”
Limiting penalties are one of the areas the coach would like to see the Bobcats improve on, he said, along with fine tuning of the fundamentals.
The 1-0 Bobcats are in Morenci Friday for a 7 p.m. game with the Wildcats who also posted a season-opening win over Santa Rita. It’s the first of two straight road games for Benson.
“We’ll have to play extremely well this week against a very good team to get a win,” said Determan.