BENSON — After a fairly solid first half of football, host Benson looked poised to give defending 2A state champion Thatcher a run for its money.

The Bobcats, despite moving the ball effectively in the first half, gave up one big play on special teams, an 80-yard kick return for a touchdown with just under four minutes left in the second quarter. That enabled the Eagles to enter the locker room ahead 7-6 at the half, then it was all Thatcher from that point on. The Eagles outscored the Bobcats 27-6 in the second half to post the 34-12 win while handing the Benson its first loss of the season.

Each team came to play. Benson drew first blood when Carson Barney’s four-yard run in the second quarter gave the Bobcats the 6-0 lead with 7:51 remaining in the first half. Barney’s PAT kick attempt failed.

The Bobcats ran the ball well in the first half and the defense stymied the Eagles. But an inability to finish drives helped keep Benson out of the end zone.

The Bobcats would not score again until the fourth quarter.

The Eagles made the necessary adjustments and came out in the third quarter, capping a 65-yard drive with a three-yard TD run with 7:41 remaining in the quarter, and would score again with 2:07 left to play in the third.

Thatcher added 13 more fourth-quarter points. Barney scored his second touchdown of the game on an 80-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.

Benson coach Chris Determan noted inconsistency was the Bobcats’ downfall.

“Our lack of consistency on offense and not getting it done up front in run or pass blocking,” the coach said, while acknowledging the effort was there.

“Our effort was where it needed to be. On defense we played with heart and flew around,” the coach said. “We also cut penalties down this week to manageable three total.”

The focus, the coach said, will be on blocking and sustained consistency. “We must be able to move the ball running or passing. We’ll need to continue to get better and fix the little things that are so important to being successful — timing, footwork… We need to continue to improve and fix what we do get off the ball faster.”

The Bobcats, 3-1 overall, are on the road Friday at Heritage Academy in a non-league game at 7 p.m.

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