Big second half leads Tide to first win
Down 14-0 at halftime, the Minden Crimson Tide put together a big second half of football to defeat Benton, 30-25, Friday night at the Pit.
The Tide came alive in the third quarter after managing just 29 yards of total offense in the first half, scoring on each of their first four possessions of the second half. Even so, Minden had to rely on extra point conversions to take the win, converting on three of the four two-point conversion attempts, while Benton only converted a single PAT.
After a scoreless first quarter, Benton struck first after an interception at the Tide 31 yard line. The Tigers took only three plays to score from there, led down the field by their quarterback Jordan Shaffer, with the big play a 25 yard run by Benton's top rusher, Zach Pierson. The kick was good, to make the score 7-0, early in the second quarter.
A couple of Minden possessions followed, but the Tide couldn't move the ball, and after struggling to get a pass off, Benton forced Francis to cough up the ball at the Tide 24.
Benton wasted no time getting into the end zone, with Pierson again being the workhorse, scoring from 21 yards out. This time the point after was no good, and would eventually play into the Minden win.
Minden received the kickoff to start the second half, and things immediately turned around for the Tide.
On second down and 10 from the Tide's 18-yard line, Dominque Walker turned on his jets for a 45-yard scamper and lifted the spirits of the home crowd and the Minden bench. From the Benton 37, Francis hit Mikey James for 10 yards, and a first down. He followed that with a couple of shorter completions to move the ball to the 11. Francis finished the drive with a pass to James near the goal line, and James did the rest on his feet to give Minden its first score of the night. Walker's rushing attempt on the conversion try was good, making the score 13-8 early in the half.
After holding the Tigers on their next possession, the Tide received and downed the punt at their own 41. Francis again started the drive in a great way, hitting Marshal Frye twice in a row, with a Benton personal foul sandwiched between the two. A couple of completions later, the Tide was at the six yard line; however, a personal foul penalty called on a Minden receiver for excessive celebration put them back to the 21.
Francis made good on his next pass to get back the penalty yardage, and then found Elgin Moore in the end zone for the Tide score. Devontrez Jackson caught the conversion attempt to give the Tide its first lead of the year, 16-13.
Benton scored on their next possession to regain the lead, but again was denied the point after to leave the score 19-13.
The Tide was not to be left behind tonight. Francis again got plenty of protection from his line on the next Minden drive, and completed four more passes, with the big strike going to Moore to get the home team to the eight yard line. A couple of plays later, Francis took the dive to score from one yard out, again giving the Tide a lead. A pass to Moore converted the extra point try, and Minden led by five, 24-19.
Once again though, Benton fought back, with Shaffer completing a touchdown pass to Bednarke from 14 yards out, once again putting pressure on the Tide, but again the point after was denied to leave the score 25-24.
Francis went to work with his favorite receiver, Moore, on the next possession. One completion for 20 yards, then one for 43 put the Tide in Tiger territory. He then found Moore alone one more time for 19 yards and the touchdown. This time, the conversion failed, but Minden led 30-25.
Benton was held by the Tide defense on their next two possessions to seal the first win of the year for Minden.
Francis had another great game, completing 24 of 38 passes for 332 yards, with only one interception. Moore led all receivers with a whopping nine catches for 173 yards. James added six for 94 yards. Walker added 55 yards on the ground.
Hutton Leppert again led the defense, with help from Kyler James and Mikey James.
The Tide will end its season next Friday at Northwood. Game time is 7 p.m.