BENTON, Ark. – Ethan Watson’s interception helped Lake Hamilton spoil Benton’s Senior Night, and set up a showdown with top-ranked Greenwood next week for the 6A West championship.
Watson’s theft at his own 18 yard line with 6:43 left in the game was the exclamation point to Lake Hamilton’s impressive 51-34 win over the Panthers Friday night at Everett Field.
Lake Hamilton (8-0) never trailed in the game, while piling up 391 yards on the ground and a season-high 116 yards via the airways. Junior quarterback Grant Bearden completed 6 of 12 passes, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Rhodes in the second quarter. Bearden had a 67-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Martin nullified by a penalty.
The Wolves’ potent running game was led by junior Owen Miller’s five touchdown effort. Miller carried the ball 28 times for 173 yards, scoring on runs of 6, 3, 45, 3 and 4 yards. Fullback Tevin Woodley added 147 yards, and a touchdown, while Martin added 60 yards on the ground.
Wolves now face biggest test in Greenwood
“Our kids are coming together,” said winning coach Tommy Gilleran. “We’ve had no injuries, and the Covid-thing. Knock on wood! If we keep these kids heathy we’ve got a chance to do some good things in the playoffs.
“Ethan’s interception was huge. Benton had some success passing down the middle, but I didn’t really see what they were doing. When we’re on defense I go to the tent and work with the offense. When I watch film tonight I’ll be able to see what was going on. This game should really help us get ready for Greenwood. They throw the ball a lot, too.”
If there was any disappointment from Lake Hamilton’s viewpoint, it was the fact senior quarterback Layne Warrick didn’t play. He did suit up for the first time this season.
“Layne still isn’t clear to play yet, but he’s got a chance to play next week,” said Gilleran. “We certainly got an outstanding effort from Grant (Bearden).”
The Wolves took the opening kickoff and scored in seven plays. Bearden completed a long pass on the first play of the game for the second straight week, with Miller hauling in a 29-yard pass. Miller scored the game’s first points with 8:17 left in the first quarter.
Lake Hamilton defense shines
Benton (5-4) needed three possessions to get on the scoreboard. Jordan Parham caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Garrett Brown. Brown completed 20 of 29 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns, with that one interception.
Junior Andre Lane tied the game at 21-21 in the second quarter with a dazzling 96-yard kickoff return. A 36-yard field goal by the Wolves’ Alex Hurtz put Lake Hamilton up 24-21 at intermission.
Lake Hamilton’s defense forced the Panthers to punt twice at the beginning of the second half. The Wolves scored twice on Miller touchdowns to pull away, 37-21. Miller scored again early in the fourth quarter, with Woodley adding the final six-pointer.
Brown completed 52 and 14-yard touchdown passes in the second half.
In other 6A West games Friday night, Greenwood outscored Van Buren, 50-29. Parkview blanked Siloam Springs, 37-0, and Mountain Home defeated Russellville, 24-7.
In other regional games Friday:
Texarkana cruised past Hope, 33-13. Arkadelphia routed Bauxite, 62-6. Fountain Lake dominated HG Haskell, 33-7. Joe T. Robinson slipped past Ashdown in overtime, 29-21. Nashville whipped Malvern, 42-12.
Bismarck outlasted Fouke, 21-14. Glen Rose blanked Horatio, 42-0. Prescott roared past Jessieville, 63-12. Gurdon beat Mount Ida, 35-7. Magnet Cove ran over Cutter Morning Star, 60-20. Dierks edged rival Mineral Springs, 24-18, and Murfreesboro topped Lafayette County, 38-22.