Two things did in the Little River High School football team in its home-opener Friday night, JJ Allen of Bennington and missed chances.
LITTLE RIVER — Two things did in the Little River High School football team in its home-opener Friday night, JJ Allen of Bennington and missed chances. Allen rushed for 220 yards on 34 attempts and scored four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 42-20 win in front of an overflowing Redskins home crowd.
The Redskins had several opportunities that were turned away by missed tackles, miscues or turnovers. None was bigger than a long completed pass to Peyton Harvey in the 3rd quarter that was ruled a fumble as he went down and picked up by the Bulldogs, who returned it 20 yards to stop the Skins drive. At that point in the game the Redskins were down by eight, 14-6 and were driving for a possible game tying score and PAT. Instead, Bennington scored on the drive after the pick to go up by 14 and they never looked back.
"Anytime you have a big play and then you lose the ball and they have a big return off of it it kind of demoralizes you a little bit," said Redskins Head Coach Chad Lafferty. "But hopefully these guys will learn from that and in the future if that happens they'll rise to the occasion and get a defensive stop and take care of the ball again."
JJ Allen opened the scoring in the first quarter on a two yard run, capping the Bulldogs opening drive. Their two-point conversion failed and Bennington led 6-0.
It was another JJ Allen touchdown run, this time from four yards out, in the second quarter and a Javon Allen run for the PAT that gave the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead. At that point it looked like Little River was no match for Bennington.
Peyton Harvey changed all that when he took a handoff from quarterback Levi Swenson and sprinted up the middle for a 30 yard TD. The PAT run attempt failed and the Redskins were back within eight at 14-6, a score that held as the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime.
Helped by a 15 yard penalty at the end of the first half for unsportsmanlike conduct that caused Bennington to kick from deep in their own territory, Little River started the drive that changed the game. Bennington took advantage of the fumble call after the long Little River 23-yard completion and capped off the sway in momentum with a Layne Wilton 7-yard TD run. The failed PAT left the score 20-6 Bulldogs and took the wind out of the Redskins sails for the remainder of the quarter.
Bennington's JJ Allen scored his third TD of the game before the third quarter was complete. The point after touchdown failed and the Bulldogs took a commanding 26-6 lead into the final period.
Hunter Thomas opened up the fourth quarter scoring with a 16-yard touchdown run. Levi Swenson would add a run in for the PAT and close the gap to 26-14 and give hope to the home crowd that was still there in full force.
Bennington then slammed the door with touchdown runs by JJ Allen and JT Ohlson, both with failed PAT's, to give them a 42-14 lead late in the game. But credit Little River with not knowing the word quit, as they drove down field one more time, capped off by a Thomas touchdown run to give us the final margin to 42-20.
"They never quit," said Lafferty. "We still got some things we're working on offensively, I mean we're still figuring out what works and what doesn't work sometimes so we've got some tools there we've just got to put them all together."
Harvey led the Redskins in rushing with 76 yards on eight attempts with one touchdown. Thomas added 32 yards on 11 carries with two TD's while Swenson carried nine times for 20 yards. Harvey was also the leading receiver with two catches for 26 yards, with Dillinger Page pulling in two catches for eight yards.
Defensively Graham Stevens had nine solo tackles and four assists. Brayden Sears was credited with eight solo stops and 10 assists while Harvey added six and six, Bryce Sears five and six, Page four and four, Thomas two and three, Kody Hawkinson one and four and Ethan Schafer had one tackle and two assists.
Little River stays at home next week as they host Wakefield, who comes in with a 2-0 record after demolishing Goessel 68-20 and Peabody-Burns 62-26, both district foes that the Redskins will face later in the season. Kick off is set for 7 p.m.
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.