After finishing the regular season with the division’s second-best record, the Fort Benning Bengals faced off Saturday against the undefeated Phenix City Titans in the 11- to 13-year-old Columbus Youth Football League’s Peanut Bowl at A.J. McClung Stadium, falling to the Titans 39-19.
In their first appearance in the championship game since joining the CYFL, the Bengals were the first team on the scoreboard, scoring on 39-yard pass from Brandal Knight to Terrell Jones with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Trailing 7-0, the Titans scored on their next possession, driving the ball 51 yards on nine plays culminating with a 12-yard touchdown run from John Broussard with 1:20 left in the quarter. The Titans missed the point-after attempt and trailed the Bengals 7-6, but the Titans were not finished scoring in the quarter.
After setting up on their on 13-yard line following the ensuing kickoff, the Titans defense forced a Bengals fumble on the Bengals 14 and capitalized on the turnover on the next play, scoring on a 14-yard run by Antavious Jackson with 59 seconds left in the first quarter to lead, 12-7.
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After the offense sputtered on their next possession, the Bengals turned over the ball on downs, two plays later, Jackson scored his second touchdown for the Titans on a 27-yard run to put the Titans up 18-7 at the 6:56 mark in the second quarter.
The opportunistic Titans special teams block a punt on the Bengals next possession, with Ben Alexander picking up the blocked punt and running it in from 27 yards out to put the Titans on top 24-7 with 5:01 remaining in the half.
The Titans scored one more time in the half on a 2-yard run by Jaxton Carson with 1:36 remaining until the halftime break.
The second half began with the defenses contolling the game, but on the Titans second possession of the half Daveon Ward broke loose on an 11-yard touchdown run to put the Titans ahead 39-7.
On the ensuing possession, the Bengals put together their first long drive since the first half. Taking the ball on their own 43-yard line, the Bengals used a combination of runs and passes to move down to the Titans 20-yard line.
On first and 10 from the 20, Knight improvised on a broken pass play, scrambling for the touchdown to close the gap on the Titans, 39-13 with 1:14 left in the third quarter.
Knight scored one more touchdown for the Bengals on a 34-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, but it too little, too late as the Titans won the Peanut Bowl championship 39-19.
Following the game, coach Lee Obie said he was proud of the way the team played, specifically his quarterback.
“I think we played well,” he said. “But not as well as we could have. (Knight) is a first-year quarterback for us and has been the best quarterback I have coached.”
Obie said the game changer, though, came with a rules change during the game.
“The rules about who could punt changed during the game,” he said. “We used the same punter the entire season, then couldn’t use him to punt during the championship it was the changing point of the game.”
The Bengals had two punts blocked following the change in punters.