The Roughriders improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in league action with the 34-12 win over New London (0-4, 0-1).
Prior to this season, Western had not won three of its first four games since the 2012 season.
“Anytime you can win on homecoming, that’s fun for our guys,” Western coach Ty Stevenson said. “Probably not our best performance of the year, but you know, sometimes that happens. We’re just happy anytime you get a win. Our kids played hard. I thought our defense played really well.”
“The offense wasn’t quite where it had been the last few weeks, but that happens sometimes,” he added.
After a scoreless first quarter, the ’Riders got on the scoreboard with a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Jude Muenz to senior Cody Benesh, who took it the distance for the 73-yard score. Senior Dalton Webb kicked the first of four extra points for the 7-0 lead.
Benesh capped off a 72-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:49 until halftime.
Western led 14-0 when kicking off to New London, which fumbled the return at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line. The ’Riders used the next 2:48 for a drive ending with Muenz finding junior wide receiver Cory Hipp for a 15-yard pass play to make it 21-0.
The home team struggled with getting pressure on New London quarterback Peyton Wilson until the third quarter.
“We thought we could get pressure early and we didn’t. We got a little bit better as the second half went on. We started finding a couple things we could use a little bit,” Stevenson said.
“(In) the second half we did a better job of getting pressure on him and forced him to make some quick throws and we got a few sacks on him,” he added.
New London opened the third quarter with an 80-yard scoring drive. Wilson took the ball into the end zone for a 5-yard run. The PAT was no good and Western’s lead was 21-6.
“We went a little uptempo; we sped it up and I think our kids do well when we’re playing fast,” New London coach Kemmes Keys said. “I think that’s something we’ll build on and we’ll take a look at going forward. We stayed in it throughout the second half and we moved the ball into the red zone a few times and just stalled out on the drive.
“I think we were moving the ball; we just stalled out,” he added. “We just didn’t execute a few times and make a play when we needed to make a play.”
Less than a minute after New London’s drive, Western scored. Muenz avoided several New London tacklers on a quarterback keeper and ran it 35 yards for the TD. The score came after Hipp ran the kickoff about 40 yards into Wildcat territory.
Western led 28-6 going into the final quarter.
Benesh had a 1-yard TD run with 9:11 left in the game to make it 34-6. The senior running back finished the night with 26 carries, 140 yards, two rushing TDs and the 73-yard catch-and-run score.
That unofficially put Benesh at 1,039 yards and 15 TDs on the ground just four games into the season.
New London’s mostly second-team offense scored with 3:48 left on the clock. Backup QB Jamil Arnold launched the ball 43 yards and senior wide receiver Parker Ruble went up for the catch in the end zone.
“It was an outstanding catch. Great concentration by Parker that he maintained to make that catch; that was outstanding,” Keys said.
Each team travels to face FC opponents Friday. New London will play at Monroeville (1-3, 0-1) while Western goes to Plymouth (3-0).
“Anytime you can win that first league game, that’s a plus. Now we’re 1-0 in the league,” Stevenson said. “Plymouth is really good. … That’s a big game that we’re excited to go down there and play.”
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter.
New London 0 0 6 6—12
W. Reserve 0 21 7 6—34
WR — Cody Benesh 73 pass from Jude Muenz (Dalton Webb kick)
WR — Benesh 3 run (Webb kick)
WR — Cory Hipp 15 pass from Muenz (Webb kick)
NL — Peyton Wilson 5 run (kick failed)
WR — Muenz 35 run (Webb kick)
WR — Benesh 1 run (kick failed)
NL — Parker Ruble 43 pass from Jamil Arnold (two-point failed)