MONTICELLO — There’s nothing quite like a huge victory to celebrate Homecoming night.
Jacob Milligan scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and Gage Businger added a scoring run and a pick-six as Twin Lakes’ ground game and defense propelled the Indians to an easy 61-7 victory Friday over Benton Central.
“I was pleased with our execution offensively,” Indians head coach Scott Mannering said. “We still have an issue with tackling and we have to get better at that, but we made some stops. Overall, it was a good game. We got everybody involved and everybody contributed.”
In all, eight Indians got in on the scoring action against the Bison (0-3). As for the ground game, Twin Lakes piled up 291 of its 348 total yards on the ground.
Milligan led the assault with 71 yards on just three carries, while Jaylen Roush scampered for 39 yards on four totes and Businger added 38 yards on one carry — a touchdown run in the third quarter.
“We played several halfbacks tonight,” Mannering said. “They all block well for each other. That was good to see. The offensive line as a whole executed really well.”
The Indians were off and running early, taking a 34-0 lead midway through the second quarter before Benton Central cracked the scoreboard.
Jase Greear started the barrage with a 1-yard plunge; Roush plowed into the end zone from three yards out; Milligan dashed 27 yards for a score; and Jace Stoops hauled in the first of two Danny Bennett scoring passes from 19 yards out. Milligan grabbed the other Bennett aerial for a 38-yard score
The two scoring passes were Bennett’s only completions, and only passes.
Benton Central cracked the scoreboard midway through the second quarter on a Colin Wilkinson 1-yard run to cut the lead to 34-7.
Before the end of the first half, Caden Harker added a 17-yard scoring run and Businger returned a Wilkinson pass 50 yard for paydirt and a 47-7 halftime lead. Businger finished with two interceptions.
The play of the night belonged to Colby Smock, a first-year player who stepped in front of a Wilkinson screen pass out in the flat and ran 30 yards untouched for what turned out to be the final score.
“The kid has just gotten better every week,” Mannering said of Smock. “We’ve had him at a couple different positions — safety and outside linebacker — and he was playing corner on that particular play. He really made a nice read on the ball.”
The key, Mannering said, was the Indians’ ability to stay away from penalties — they committed just five for 55 yards — and didn’t have a turnover.
“Overall, it was a good night for the Indians,” he said.
More than anything, Mannering was pleased his team didn’t take Benton Central lightly.
“We played well against a team that’s a little bit young and inexperienced. We played at our level, so that was satisfying to me,” he said. “I thought we played better than we did a week ago (a 35-0 loss at Rensselaer). That’s the main thing that I saw in my guys.”
Harker led the Indians with five tackles, three assists, a sack and one tackle for loss.