Early Benton surge too much for NCHS

FEELING THE PRESSURE: NCHS quarterback Adam Guillet is pressured late in Friday’s 62-15 loss to Benton.

NATCHITOCHES – Natchitoches Central running back Jeremiah Miles crossed the goal line twice against Benton in the first half Friday, but the game looked very different from Miles’ first score to his second score. 

Miles scampered 72 yards to answer an early Benton score that gave the Chiefs an early 7-6 lead. 

When Miles found paydirt near the end of the second quarter on a 63-yard jaunt, Benton had already scored seven first-half touchdowns en route to the 62-15 rout. 

Benton (3-3, 2-1 District 1-5A) scored 55 points in the first half as the Tigers rolled up 461 yards of offense against the Chiefs (2-4, 1-2) 

NCHS coach James Wilkerson said the loss of Chiefs receiver Robert Walker II, who died in a utility terrain vehicle accident this past weekend, weighed heavy on the team this week. 

“I think the heaviness of the week played a major role,” Wilkerson said. “It was a tough week for the team.” 

Along with the typical Homecoming posters and signs, NCHS cheerleaders carried signs bearing Walker’s name. 

The Chiefs did have success in the running game, but most of the yardage came on Miles’ two long scoring runs. 

Miles gained 135 of his 187 yards on those two scoring gallops, which accounted for most of Natchitoches Central’s 186 total offensive yards. The second touchdown run, plus a two-point conversion run from Miles, sliced Benton’s lead to 42-15 in the second quarter. 

Miles outgained his own team because Benton forced multiple negative rushing plays and held the Chiefs to negative passing yards (-3). 

That was no match for a Benton offense led by quarterback Gray Walters (370 passing yards and five touchdowns) and running back Greg Manning (73 rushing yards and four touchdowns). 

Benton’s Brady Blalock took a short pass 80 yards on the first offensive play from scrimmage, which Miles answered on the next offensive play with his 72-yard touchdown. 

But that’s the only answered the Chiefs had Friday as Benton strung together six straight touchdowns – three more Walters touchdown passes with three of Manning’s four touchdown runs. 

Quarterback BJ Young made his first start of the regular season after returning from a shoulder injury suffered in the jamboree. 

Young completed 1-of-10 passes for minus-3 yards and rushed for minus-2 yards as he’s still making his recovery after taking a few snaps this past week against Airline. 

“Young played hard,” Wilkerson said. “Jeremiah Miles did a great job for us tonight, and we’ll continue to build. Benton throws and catches the ball extremely well, and they showed that tonight.” 

Benton 62, Natchitoches Central 15 

Score by quarters 

Benton | 27 | 28 | 7 | 0 | 62 

NCHS | 7 | 8 | 0 | 0 | – 15 

Scoring summary 

B – Brady Blaylock 80 pass from Gray Walters (kick blocked) 

NC – Jeremiah Miles 72 run (Ricardo Gavin kick) 

B – Pearce Russell 24 pass from Walters (Peyton May kick) 

B – Greg Manning 1 run (May kick) 

B – Manning 2 run (May kick) 

B – Manning 1 run (May kick) 

B – Russell 16 pass from Walters (May kick) 

B – Russell 35 pass from Walters (May kick) 

NC – Miles 63 run (Miles run) 

B – Andy Lim 43 pass from Walters (May kick) 

B – Manning 16 run (May kick) 

Individual leaders 

Rushing 

Benton  – Manning 19-71 4 TDs, Walters 2-9. 

NCHS – Miles 19-185 2 TDs, Zion Thompson 2-6. 

Passing 

Benton – Walters 20-25-0 382 yards 5 TDs 

NCHS –  Brain Young 1-9-0, minus-3. 

Receiving  

Benton – Russell 9-145 3 TDs, Blaylock 5-116 1 TD, Lim 5-114 1TD, Jeffrey King 1-7. 

NCHS – Titus Williams 1-minus-3. 

PHOTO: Kevin Shanahan/NPJ Sports