BENTON – After being shutout in back-to-back games for the first time in his coaching career, Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz wanted to see his football team get off to a good start on offense against Benton/Scales Mound on Friday night.
The young Warriors did not disappoint their coach as they found the end zone on four of their five first-half possessions and added a special team’s score as well en route to a 36-6 Six Rivers Conference victory over the host Zephyrs at Swift Park on Sept. 9.
“I was really happy with our first half performance. I thought our kids exhibited a toughness tonight that we haven’t seen, so I was proud of that,” said Milz. “We got a growing curve we’re overcoming, and we’re getting better every week.”
After stopping the Zephyrs (0-4 overall, 0-3 SRC) on three plays on the opening drive of the game, the Warriors (2-2, 2-2) went to work on offense, marching 52 yards on 12 plays to get on the scoreboard. Sophomore running back Colby Argall capped the drive with a 5-yard TD run, and junior Brody Milz added the conversion to make it 8-0.
Black Hawk’s defense got the ball back on a fumble recovery at the Zephyrs’ 17-yard line and, on the very next play, junior wide receiver Jett Rufenacht leapt high over a BSM defender in the end zone to haul in a pass from quarterback Michael Flanagan for another score. Milz added the conversion for a 16-0 lead.
The Zephyrs turned a Warrior turnover into points late in the opening quarter when they cut the Black Hawk lead to 16-6 on a 34-yard scoring strike from Wyatt Bastian to Brooks Tiedeman one play following a muffed punt.
However, the Warriors grabbed the momentum right back when Rufenacht returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a score to put the guests up 24-6 with 1:30 remaining in the opening quarter.
“(Jett’s) a very athletic kid. We’re trying to generate more explosive plays down the field and he is somebody who can do that. He showed tonight he’s capable of making big plays,” noted Milz.
Flanagan took the ball back from the Zephyrs’ on an interception on the first play of the next drive, and Milz cashed it in five plays later with a 9-yard TD run to extend the lead to 30-6 less than a minute into the second quarter.
Flanagan got into the scoring act late in the first half when he punched across the goal line on a 1-yard sneak to make it 36-6 with 47 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Warriors moved the ball well throughout the second half, but a pair of lost fumbles inside the 5-yard line and several penalties combined to thwart any more scoring opportunities.
“We can’t continue to have some of these mistakes and this sloppy play,” Milz admitted. “I think you’re going to see this team start to click and improve as the season goes on.”
The Warrior D rose to the occasion by pitching a shutout in the second half to seal the victory and put a rest to a two-game slide.
Black Hawk finished the night with over 400 yards of total offense after rushing 50 times for 266 yards and adding another 135 passing yards on six completions.
Argall finished with 133 yards on 26 totes with a score, while Milz tacked on 127 yards on 18 carries with a TD of his own.
“They are both still learning and our line is still learning. They are going to continue to get better throughout the season,” said Milz.
Flanagan went 6-of-11 through the air for 135 yards with a TD and an interception. Rufenacht hauled in three catches for 98 yards and a score, and he added 110 return yards on the night.
The Zephyrs were limited to 99 yards for the game with 53 coming on the ground and 46 coming through the air. They also turned the ball over four times.
Rece Shelton tallied a team-high nine tackles, while Milz was in on seven stops and Mitchell Quinn and Preston Bevins each had six tackles. Quinn and Avery Baumgartner recovered fumbles with Flanagan and Noah Metz each picking off a pass. Bevins, Nick Hull, Gunner Foecking and Josh Meier were each in on a quarterback sack.
Black Hawk travels to Potosi (1-4, 1-3) on Friday, Sept. 16, for a SRC contest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We’re going into a hornet’s nest. We’ll need to be physical, and we’ll need to be able to move the ball and eliminate some of these mistakes. Potosi is going to be hungry. They have to win or they’re out of the playoff hunt. This is a big game for us, too, because there are still tough teams out there on our schedule. There’s no guarantee we’ll be in the playoffs either, so we need to play well up there,” said Milz.
Black Hawk… 24 12 0 0 – 36
Benton-SM…. 6 0 0 0 – 6
BH– Colby Argall, 5 run (Brody Milz run)
BH – Jett Rufenacht, 17 pass from Michael Flanagan (Milz run)
BSM – Brooks Tiedeman, 34 pass from Wyatt Bastian (run failed)
BH– Rufenacht, 98 kickoff return (Milz run)
BH– Milz, 9 run (run failed)
BH– Flanagan, 1 run (run failed)
Team Stats: First Downs– BH 16; BSM 4. Rushing– BH 50-266; BSM 27-53. Passing– BH 6-11-1, 135; BSM 4-12-2, 46. Fumbles-Lost– BH 5-3; BSM 2-2. Penalties– BH 11-80; BSM 4-25.
Black Hawk Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Colby Argall, 26-133-1; Brody Milz, 18-127-1. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Michael Flanagan, 6-11-1-1, 135. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Jett Rufenacht, 3-98-1.