Stilwell’s Indians finally dropped their big bomb in overtime. Gregery Benham, a bruising 6-foot-2, 220-pound fullback, hadn’t carried the ball even once in regulation play, then got his chance with game on the line.
Benham scored 14 of the Indians’ 15 points in three overtimes, powering Stilwell to a 29-21 victory over Verdigris Friday night at Cardinal Stadium.
The loss spoiled the Verdigris debut of head coach Tony Daniels who watched his team play without celebrated running back Tanner Boles and fumble the ball seven times in the process.
“As of right now, he’s ineligible,’’ Daniels said of Boles, who added that the suspended star could return later in the season. “Seth McLaughlin was out of the game with a little concussion, but he should dress out on Monday.’’
Noble Patterson replaced Boles in the Cardinals’ backfield and ran for 117 yards on 28 carries, including touchdown runs of 2 and 5 yards. But seven fumbles, including two lost, were difficult for Daniels to fathom.
“I expected us to execute better and do the little things right. That‘s what we stress,’’ Daniels said. “In our scrimmages we didn’t fumble like this and then tonight we turn the lights on…..I don’t know.’’
Some of the games numbers were perplexing. Stilwell managed just 15 yards rushing and 55 offensive plays. Verdigris ran for 264 yards and piled up 91 plays. The Cards recorded 20 first downs compared to 11 for the Indians, but the visitors helped out with 13 penalties for 89 yards .
Benham scored the winning touchdown on a 6-yard run in the third OT, then bulled over for two conversion points. Verdigris failed to score on four downs in its turn with the ball, finally seeing Reece Phillips’ fourth-down end zone pass for Aaron Vann broken up by Stilwell defensive back Colby Huval.
Benham scored on the first play of overtime to give the Indians a 21-14 lead. The Cardinals’ retaliated when Phillips rolled right and found Vann just inside the flag from seven yards away. Neither team scored in the second overtime.
“I was pleased with how hard our kids worked. I’m happy with that,’’ Daniels said. “But the execution and the stuff we practice on everyday, we were not able to do that when we needed to and it showed.’’
Verdigris had a shot at winning when Cody Mullis attempted a 25-yard field goal with 1:38 left. However, Mullis’ boot sailed wide left, setting the stage for OT.