ANNA — The Anna Coyotes wrapped up non-district play on a high note Friday, extending their win streak to three games with a 16-10 Homecoming win over Benbrook. Anna rallied from a 10-7 fourth-quarter deficit with a Micaiah Ross 9-yard touchdown run and a safety off a Bobcats punt-snap out of the end zone.
The Coyotes played turnover-free ball and showed stout, bend-don’t-break defensive play throughout the contest.
“We only gave up one big play, defensively,” Anna head coach Jason Heath said, noting Benbrook’s 73-yard TD pass in the third quarter. “For the most part we held them. … The big thing is to get off the field so we’re not out there that long. There were a lot of third downs that we left out there but I thought, defensively, we came up big when we needed to. Offensively, when we needed to go score, they went and scored.
“We’re going to continue to get ready for district. It doesn’t matter if you’re 3-1 or 0-4 right now. When you start district, everybody is 0-0.”
While Coyotes junior quarterback Jaden Adams’ numbers weren’t gaudy - 8-of-17 for 72 yards - he got the job done. His 19-yard touchdown strike to Noah Palshaw gave Anna its 7-0 first-quarter lead and he ably led the Coyotes’ crucial come-from-behind scoring drive in the final stanza.
“Jaden’s getting more comfortable back there,” Heath said. “He didn’t play last year so it’s a process getting back into it. … He’s getting better and better each week.”
Anna’s Arthur Nwokorie rushed for a game-high 96 tough yards on 21 carries.
Ross also intercepted two passes - one in the Coyotes’ end zone to end Benbrook’s first possession and one at the end of the first half to preserve Anna’s 7-3 lead at the break. He also got loose for a 27-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. “It’s just good to have another [running] back there that we can put in that can go do good things for us - and then his play defensively,” Heath said.
Safety Abner Dubar led the Coyotes with seven solo tackles and three assists while Ross logged six solo stops. Linebacker Caden Joyce was in on six tackles with one solo.
For Class 4A Benbrook (2-2), quarterback William Green hit on 13-of-30 pass attempts for 193 yards. The Bobcats’ Chad Hutchinson posted six catches for 117 yards - both game-highs - and Demetrio Brown nabbed four passes for 89 yards, including the TD grab. Lavon Vessel led Benbrook rushers with 75 yards on 15 carries.
The game opened in freewheeling fashion with the Bobcats completing a 45-yard halfback pass on the first play from scrimmage. But on third down from the Anna 17, Green’s pass to the left side of the end zone was sniffed out by Ross. “He ran a corner [route] so I sunk back and he threw it right to me,” Ross said. “I just went up and got it.”
After the teams exchanged punts, the Coyotes took over on their own 37. Adams connected with Dorien Allen for nine yards before Nwokorie burst up the middle, broke a tackle and gained 17 yards to the Benbrook 37. From there, Adams, with lots of time, found Joey Montano open over the middle for 13 yards to the 24.
Nwokorie then got five more and on third-and-5 from the 19, Adams fired a strike to Palshaw crossing left to right over the middle for a touchdown. After a roughing the kicker penalty on his first try, Justin Amon’s point-after kick made to 7-0, Anna, with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
That’s when Benbrook began a 23-play march that would bear no fruit. From the Coyotes’ 13, a third-down pass was dropped at the goal line and an ensuing 30-yard field goal try missed wide left. After an Anna three-and-out and a punt, the Bobcats moved again into field goal range. This time Francisco Ceja’s 31-yard attempt was true and Benbrook trailed, 7-3.
On the Coyotes’ next possession, Adams connected with Allen for 19 yards to the Bobcats’ 37 but the drive stalled from there on a fourth-down pass to Darren Woods that came up short.
With less than 30 seconds left in the half, Benbrook’s bid to take the lead before the break ended when Green’s deep ball down the middle was intercepted by Ross.
To open the second half, the Coyotes punted after three plays - and an unsportsmanlike penalty - and Benbrook was on the move again. But this 13-play march ended on fourth-and-4 from Anna’s 24 when linebacker Josh Packard blew up a reverse and a host of Coyotes joined in to throw Jordan Thompson for an 11-yard loss.
Anna punted after another three-and-out and Benbrook then hit the TD bomb over the middle to lead for the first time, 10-7, with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded punts again before the Coyotes drove 59 yards in 10 plays to the Benbrook 19, boosted by Ross’s 27-yard run and a 12-yard Adams-to-Palshaw pass. But on fourth-and-11 a 36-yard field goal try was blocked.
Now with under 10 minutes left, Anna needed a stop – and got it. On third-and-9 from the Benbrook 21, Green was stopped by defensive lineman Sean Lee and Packard to force a punt.
“I knew the whole time that we were going to stop them,” Dubar said. ‘”Our defense, we were prepared for this. … I knew we were going to execute and do what we needed to do.”
With Anna starting at its own 49, Nwokorie carried three-straight times for 18 yards and soon Ross’s burst off left tackle for the score that gave the Coyotes the lead for good, 14-10.
“Everybody was just pushing me, telling me to run hard, keep my hand on the ball,” Ross said of that drive. “And that’s what I did, just ran hard. … I saw an open gap so I hit it full-speed and made a cut and I was in the end zone.”
On Benbrook’s next series, Anna linebacker John Mark Box sacked Green for a 2-yard loss and two plays later, on fourth-and-10 from the Bobcats’ 25, the snap sailed past the punter and out of the end zone for a safety. The Coyotes ran out the clock from there.
Anna opens District 7-4A(I) play at home on Friday versus North Lamar (0-4).
Benbrook 0 3 7 0 - 10
Anna 7 0 0 9 - 16
A - Noah Palshaw 19 pass from Jaden Adams (Justin Amon kick), 4:12
B - Francisco Ceja 31 FG, 3:16
B - Demetrio Brown 73 pass from William Green (Francisco Ceja kick), 4:13
A - Micaiah Ross 9 run (Justin Amon kick), 6:57
A – safety, punt snapped out of end zone, 4:58
Stats Benbrook Anna
First downs 12 15
Rushes-yards 33-135 32-180
Passing yards 238 72
C-A-I 14-31-2 8-17-0
Punts-average 3-37.3 4-39.5
Penalties-yards 10-85 8-98
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Rushing - Benbrook: Lavon Vessel 15-75, Daylon Williams 9-40, William Green 7-29, Payton Poole 1-2, Jordan Thompson 1-(-11). Anna: Arthur Nwokorie 21-96, Micaiah Ross 5-47, Dorien Allen, 2-21, Noah Palshaw 3-16, Jaden Adams 1-0.
Passing - Benbrook: William Green, 13-30-193, Payton Poole 1-1-0-45. Anna: Jaden Adams 8-17-0-72.
Receiving - Benbrook: Chad Hutchinson, 6-117 yards, Demetrio Brown 4-89, Jordan Thompson 4-32. Anna: Noah Palshaw 3-25, Dorien Allen 2-28, Joey Montano 2-17, Darren Woods 1-2.