The Rusk Eagles like to run.
And run, and run and run.
The Eagles ran for 518 yards Friday night to spoil homecoming for the Athens Hornets, who dropped a 42-14 decision at Bruce Field.
Rusk senior running back Chaston Bennett victimized another defense, rushing just 15 times for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Bennett didn’t even find the end zone until the end of the second quarter, but his three scoring runs in succession — from 12, 15 and then 92 yards out — crushed the Hornets, who fell to 1-3 on the season.
The Hornets — who were all but eliminated from postseason contention last season by the upstart Eagles — had cut Rusk’s lead to 18-14 after Anthony Sanders’ 1-yard touchdown run with 2:42 left in the second quarter. But the Eagles asserted their authority via the running game, eating up 75 yards on their next drive capped by Bennett’s 12-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds to go before halftime. Rusk covered 71 of those 75 yards on the ground.
And Bennett was just getting started.
He capped Rusk’s second drive of the third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run, and then went 92 yards for a score with 1:39 left in the period to break the game open. Bennett has been doing as much to teams all season, as he pushed his season rushing totals to 877 yards and nine touchdowns.
The 15-yard run was preceded by a drive-extending penalty called on the Hornets. Rusk was forced to punt deep in its own territory, and just after the snap, a Hornet leaped to block Chris Sanchez’s kick. The Athens player was hit low and flipped head over heels, and game officials flagged Athens with a 15-yard penalty for trying to jump over a blocker. The Eagles found new life, and five plays later, the end zone to push their lead to 16.
The Hornets found the end zone only twice — beginning with Ladarius Jordan’s 25-yard run on the first play of the second quarter that briefly put his team ahead, 7-6. Rusk responded with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kody Stanley to Vijay Stingley and then a 50-yard run by Stanley to push the lead to 18-7 with 4:12 left in the second quarter.
Athens quarterback Anthony Sanders trimmed that lead to 18-14 with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:42 to go before halftime, and Bennett would follow with his back-breaking stretch of scores.
Stanley finished with 100 yards rushing on nine carries, while Foreman nearly met him at the century mark, as well (83 yards on 14 carries).
Jordan led the Hornets with 82 yards rushing on seven carries, Raheem Miller had 47 yards on 12 carries and Devin Hall rushed nine times for 41 yards.
Rusk 42, Athens 14
Rusk 6 18 12 6 — 42
Athens 0 14 0 0 — 14
R — Ray Foreman 1 run (kick fails), 2:04
A — Ladarius Jordan 25 run (Jesse Durham kick), 11:52
R — Vijay Stingley 40 pass from Kody Stanley (run fails), 8:50
R — Stanley 50 run (kick blocked), 4:12
A — Anthony Sanders 1 run (Durham kick), 2:42
R — Chaston Bennett 12 run (kick blocked), 0:54
R — Bennett 15 run (kick fails), 4:25
R — Bennett 92 run (kick fails), 1:39
R — David Overstreet 18 run (run fails), 10:39
First downs 25 14
Rush-yards 54-518 36-174
Passing yards 85 73
C-A-I 4-5-0 6-12-0
Fumbles-lost 4-0 2-1
Punts-avg. 3-31.0 6-38.3
Penalties-yards 9-102 6-50
Rushing — R: Ray Foreman 14-83; Chaston Bennett 15-239; David Overstreet 6-43; Kody Stanley 9-100; Vijay Stingley 3-2; D.J. Glenn 5-43; Chase Stanley 2-8. A: Devin Hall 9-41; Raheem Miller 12-47; Anthony Sanders 7-14; Ladarius Jordan 7-82; team 1-(-10).
Passing — R: Kody Stanley 4-5-0-85. A: Anthony Sanders 6-12-0-73.
Receiving — R: David Overstreet 1-30; Vijay Stingley 1-40; Chaston Bennett 1-11; Jason Hart 1-4. A: Travon Fuller 1-13; Javonte Johnson 1-12; K.J. Cumby 1-21; Ladarius Jordan 1-5; Devin Hall 1-22.