Harrisonville outlasts St. Joe Benton
By Jason Nichols Special to the News Press
In the final seconds of the season-opener, Benton stood six yards away from an upset victory over eighth-ranked Harrisonville.
Wildcats linebacker Austin Hastings, however, sent the Cardinals home with a heartbreaking 17-14 loss when he intercepted a pass inside his 5-yard line with eight seconds to play to thwart the late rally .
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Benton coach Matt Tabor. “We lost to a very good football team tonight. I’m proud of the way we fought, but at the end of the day, they made more plays than we did.”
The Cardinals led 14-7 at the half, led by a stout defensive line and an efficient, turnover-free offense.
Harrisonville, coming off an 11-2 season in which it reached the Class 4 quarterfinals, needed just 40 seconds to tie the game after halftime. A 40-yard kickoff return, a 12-yard run and a 28-yard scoring run by senior Chris James put the Cardinals on their heels.
Benton appeared ready to answer early in the fourth quarter, but after a 26-yard pass play, the Wildcats stripped the ball and recovered to end the threat. Eight plays later, Ben Styron kicked a 30-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner.
The Cardinal offense, led by sophomore quarterback Cooper Burton, came back with a big play of its own, when Burton hooked up with senior wideout Tobin Sisk for a 30-yard gain to the Harrisonville 30. On the next play, Wildcat sophomore cornerback Austin Matthews picked off a pass just in front of his own end zone.
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