A-J ends regular season with 43-6 win at Benton
The Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team had an impressive defensive showing in a 43-6 win over host Benton Friday night, Oct. 19.
“Our defense did a tremendous job,” A-J coach Brett Detering said. “We were very committed to stopping the run. They had one long run on us, but it didn’t reflect on our defense.”
The Redbirds were held to 98 yards rushing, with the big yardage gain for them coming on a 63-yard touchdown run on a kickoff return when the game was out of reach in the final half.
Benton ended the game with 32 yards passing.
The Wildcats improved to 7-2 overall and finished regular season play on a seven-game winning streak headed into Saturday’s IHSA Class 3A playoffs. The Rangers finished the season at 1-8.
After the Rangers punted on their first drive to open the game, the A-J offense went to work.
Following a Ranger punt, Damien Chrisp scored for A-J on a 16-yard run after a 9-play drive.
Chrisp scored on the conversion point run and A-J led 8-0 with 1:55 remaining in the first quarter.
Following a booming 63-yard punt by the Rangers’ Chance Devore, the Wildcats drove to midfield and were forced to punt.
Both teams then traded punts again before A-J got rolling.
Quarterback Conner Jerolds made a 1-yard TD run at the end of a lengthy 10-play drive.
Reid Morrison was stopped on the conversion point run and A-J was ahead 14-0 with 20.5 seconds remaining in the first half.
Benton quarterback Keegan Glover was tackled by Garrett Fabec and Ethan Ralls for a big loss to end the first half.
“We got off to a slow start,” Detering said. “It took us a little time to get our game going. But, we made some adjustments at the half.”
The Wildcats came out the final half and added four more TDs.
After the Rangers opened the second half with a punt, A-J was on the move again.
Chrisp scored on a 2-yard TD run that was built around a 12-yard run by Morrison at the end of a 7-play drive.
Morrison ran in the conversion points and the Wildcats pulled ahead 22-0 with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Running back Tyler Butler fumbled on the Rangers’ next possession and Zack Griffin recovered for A-J.
Jerolds then connected with Fabec for a 33-yard TD pass on the first play, but it was called back on a personal foul on the Wildcats.
Five plays later after the penalty, Jerolds fumbled and recovered the ball in the endzone for a 2-yard TD run.
Jerolds connected with Fabec for the conversion point pass and A-J was ahead 30-0 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Benton then moved into A-J territory before being halted on a fourth and 7 situation.
Three plays later, Jerolds connected with Morrison for a 66-yard TD pass.
Carson Pengress’ extra point kick missed and A-J was ahead 36-0 with 11:02 left in the final quarter.
Butler then scampered for a 63-yard TD on a kickoff return. He was then stopped on the conversion point run and Benton pulled to 36-6 with 10:56 remaining in the game.
A-J came right back and Ralls scored on a 4-yard TD run after a 7-play drive.
Pengress’ extra point kick closed out the scoring with 6:53 remaining in the game.
Both teams traded punts to end the game.
Chrisp led A-J’s 274-yard rushing attack with 136 yards on 27 carries.
Morrison added 64 yards on 11 carries. Jerolds had 60 yards on 14 carries. Ralls added 12 yards on 2 carries.
Jerolds was 1 of 3 passing for 66 yards. Morrison scored on that one pass completion.
“We came out with a good win,” Detering said. “It was a good night for us. I was pleased overall. A lot of guys contributed.”