Savannah endures tough day to beat Benton

By Ross Martin The St. Joseph News-Press
Posted: September 21, 2012 - 11:56 PM

Savannah’s long day threatened to spiral into a worst-case scenario.

Mired in early offensive struggles Friday night at Sparks Field, the Savages gave Benton hope of springing to a lead in an upset bid. Instead, Savannah scored its first touchdown before recording a first down and put up touchdowns on four straight possessions during the first half to take command in a 40-6 win.

After learning of head coach Chad Smith’s indefinite suspension only hours earlier, Savannah’s players and coaches needed a spark to push through the off-field distractions.

“We just had to keep focused and know what we had to do whether (Smith) was there or not,” said Savannah running back Logan Garrett, who managed only 14 yards on eight carries. “We were slow at the start. I don’t know what was going on. We couldn’t get anyone blocked. We couldn’t get the ball moving.”

Savannah administration put Smith, the Savages’ first-year coach, on leave earlier in the day after learning of an August arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated. Players learned of the decision less than 12 hours before the game.

Safety Tyler Wilt’s interception of Benton quarterback Richard Bowen finally seemed to shake Savannah out of a day-long funk.

On third-and-3 of the ensuing possession, Wilt took a handoff on a jet sweep, stiff-armed a defender in the backfield, hurdled a would-be-tackler near the line of scrimmage, shook another arm tackle and scored from 24 yards out. That started the deluge that ended with the Savages ahead 34-0 midway through the third quarter.

Quarterback Zane Wilt threw a touchdown on his first pass — 69 yards to Max Aldrich — and Tyler Wilt also scored on his first reception, a 43-yarder from his twin brother. Zane Wilt then added a touchdown run on his first carry (36 yards) to put Savannah ahead 27-0 at the half.

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