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Benton Looks to Snap Losing Skid vs. Lafayette

Lafayette (2-0) plays Benton (0-2) Friday in their first MEC game of the season.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) With conference football kicking off for many teams in the area on Friday, Benton's feeling a sense of urgency.

"We need to get a win," Cardinals head coach Matt Tabor said. "And we need to get a win in this conference."

Benton hasn't picked up a Midland Empire Conference victory since September 23rd of 2011. The Cards first opportunity this year comes against their biggest rival -- Lafayette.

"I'm getting to the point around here where I'm almost a little bit too intense," Tabor said. "Listen, we're running out of opportunities here. We have to win now."

Lafayette has beat Benton in every meeting between the schools since 2008, so when they take the field Friday there won't be any love lost.

"Bragging rights," Benton's senior running back Dontae White said. "We want to show who the better team is this week."

"I really don't want to be the first senior team to lose to them in the last six years," Lafayette senior Cody Pettijohn said. "There would be a lot of upset people, and I don't want that to happen."

The Fighting Irish roll in with a 2-0 record, and also get healthier as a whole with seniors Shawn Ashford, Kylan Kuritz and Pettijohn all back from early-season injuries.

Lafayette head coach Paul Woolard says if the Irish can put everything together, they can be a dangerous team.

"If someone catches our 'A' game I think it'd be a very difficult game for them. I think that we have the potential to do some really amazing things on both sides of the ball and on special teams," Woolard said.

Lafayette brings out an offense that likes to throw the ball all over the field. Tabor is hoping to limit the Irish by containing quarterback Drew Cortez.

"Our front four is going to be extremely pivotal to how we take on that offense," Tabor said.

On the other side, Lafayette will key on White. The Benton senior rushed for 449 yards through the first two weeks of the season, and averages more than seven yards per carry.

"We have to shutdown number 28," Pettijohn said. "We have to keep him locked down. We can't let him get outside."

With the matchup pitting north vs. south just days away, both sides are feeling the pressure to win in its first MEC game of the season.

"I do think that if we can get our athletes out in space, we can make some plays," Woolard said.

"We owe it to our kids and our school down here," Tabor said, "to have some success."
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