Conditions were sloppy to say the least Thursday night, but Benson High overcame the muck and mire to defeat Wilson 22-7 victory.
For the 2-5 Techmen, playing their home games at Marshall is a sacrifice itself. Dealing with a slippery football and ankle-deep mud for a quick-tempo, no-huddle, pass-happy offense is another frustration altogether.
'It's old school Oregon football,' Benson coach Anthony Davis said, of playing of a grass field when rain has been falling. 'Everyone has turf now. When you play on a natural surface, you get that carnival-type mud. It became tough for us.'
However, the tough part didn't come until the second half of the Class 5A Portland Interscholastic League game.
In the first half, Benson quarterback Alan Meza completed 11 of 18 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. A good chunk of his production went through standout wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who was responsible for two scores and 154 yards on nine catches.
'There isn't anyone that I've seen who can do the things he can do,' Davis said of the 6-1 junior. 'He is a freak athlete.'
In the second quarter, Bourne caught the ball on a quick slant route and darted 58 yards up the field for a touchdown. After fellow wideout Devonte Ahmed took a 53-yard toss from Meza to the house, Bourne struck again. This time the Benson star, who possesses 'video-game type' moves, according to Davis, climbed the ladder to snag a touchdown catch from 6 yards.
The Techmen had a 22-0 lead at the half.
Meanwhile, the Trojans (2-5) struggled to find their rhythm. Wilson coughed up the football three times in the first half, squashing any offensive production it was able to muster. Known for their physicality, the Trojans running backs helped the offense move the chains, but the backs couldn't do everything alone.
'I don't want to say the mud hurt us,' Wilson coach Ken Duilio said. 'We moved the ball all night. If we didn't fumble, then maybe it's a different game. That's what happens. It's football.'
After being shut out for the first two quarters, the Trojans offense put together a lengthy opening drive, powered by running backs Marshall Bakker and Brian Wojahn. The seniors traded blows to the midsection of the Tech defense. Bakker capped the drive with a 7-yard score.
Wojahn finished with 10 carries for 59 yards, and Bakker was the game's leading rusher with 133 yards on 19 attempts. Trojans junior running back William Sternberg also carried some of the load, finishing with 43 yards on 10 carries.
As the game went on and the field became more mangled, the Tech offense got less effective. After exploding in the second quarter for all three of the team's touchdowns, Benson began to sputter, going three-and-out on its first two possessions after halftime.
'The field started to deteriorate, and it made it worse for us,' Davis said. 'We couldn't get into some of the stuff we wanted to get into because the footing just wasn't as good.'
With a 2-1 conference record, the Techmen are in a position to finish high in the PIL 5A. Davis said Benson has grown as a team through a difficult nonleague schedule, and even though the Techmen have lost their first five games, they were able to take away some valuable experiences.
'Our guys are starting to understand how to put games together,' Davis said. 'That's the key.'