Madison knocks off Benson for first win
The Benson Techmen had an opportunity Friday night to further solidify themselves as the No. 2 team in the 5A Portland Interscholastic League. But the previously winless Madison Senators had other plans, and they beat Tech 34-23.
Benson coach Anthony Davis said his team could have performed at a higher level in its final home game at Marshall this season. The Techmen fell to 2-6 in a game filled with penalties and turnovers.
'We can score,' Davis said. 'Our question is our grit and football know-how. Mental mistakes are what kept us off the field offensively tonight. We kept making mental errors.'
Each team surrendered more than 100 yards in penalties. Madison coach Adam Skyles wasn't pleased with that aspect of the game, either.
'We've got to fix that,' said Skyles, whose team will face Jefferson (4-0 in PIL 5A) at home next week to close the regular season. 'We're young and a little inexperienced, but that's no excuse. We need to get those mistakes fixed.'
On the bright side, the 1-6 Senators now know that there is life after their earlier loss of starting quarterback Jon Doyle with a broken collarbone.
Junior Charles Rega has taken the reigns of the offense, and he is 'getting more comfortable under center,' according to Skyles. Leading a run-first offense, Rega carried the ball 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-1, 205-pound quarterback would have had better passing numbers had it not been for penalties negating a couple brilliant throws downfield - he finished 2 of 6 for 37 yards.
The Senators weren't alone being undermanned. Tech's standout two-way starter, 6-1, 180-pound junior receiver/defensive end Kendrick Bourne, is out indefinitely for non-injury reasons.
'He adds a different dimension,' Davis said. 'We have the ability to do a lot more things with him on the field.'
The Senators took advantage of Bourne's absence.
In the second quarter, Rega tossed right to sophomore back Robby Heiberg, who sprinted to the edge and heaved the football downfield. The pass found a wide-open JJ Sly-Boykin for an 89-yard touchdown.
It wasn't long before Madison had possession again. After punishing runs up the middle from JR Sengphet and DeQuan Watson, Rega capped off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.
The Senators led 13-0 at the half.
In the third quarter, Madison's offense picked up where it left off. The offensive line continued to open massive holes, and the first downs just kept coming. After marching the length of the field, Rega cashed in again from 19 yards.
'Our offensive line played outstanding,' Skyles said. 'Blocking downfield, getting after people - they've done a tremendous job.'
Down 20-0, Benson responded. After missing his first two passes on the drive, 6-3 sophomore quarterback Alan Meza found Antion Lawrence for a 62-yard touchdown play.
But the Senators were still scorching.
On their second offensive play of the next drive, Watson found daylight up the middle and rocketed into the end zone from 71 yards. It was a breakout game for Watson, an elusive junior running back who carried 11 times for 120 yards.
Benson fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Senators made them pay. This drive featured the power running of Sengphet, who rumbled for 25 and 12 yards. Sengphet finished what he started, scoring from the 1-yard line on a night when he had 18 carries for 64 yards.
'The kids stuck together,' Skyles said. 'It's been a rough season, but they've come in every week ready to battle, and it's paid off.'
Tech would show some heart late. Running back Khari Hanna displayed his speed for the home crowd and gashed the Madison defense for multiple gains of more than 10 yards. Hanna was good for 128 yards on just 14 carries in the game, and he scored on a 5-yard blast up the middle.
Benson scored one more time in a last-gasp attempt to narrow the margin. The Techmen ran the option from midfield, and Meza decided to tuck it himself and tore down the sideline for the touchdown.
'I didn't know he could run like that,' Davis said of Meza, who also was 12 of 20 passing for 177 yards. 'I guess it's safe to say that I'm going to have to put more options in my game plan.'