It was a tale of two halves for the Benton Cardinals and the Lafayette Irish Friday night at Sparks Field. What started as a competitive rivalry game in the first-half turned into a run-away game for the Irish in the second-half as they won 40-13.

Benton hung around early and even had a 13-12 lead going into half-time, but were unable to match their performance in the second half, allowing Lafayette to score 28 unanswered points.

Lafayette (2-1) quarterback Daeton McGaughy proved to be too tough for Benton as he scored five total touchdowns in the game, three on the ground and two in the air.

“It feels really good, kudos to my teammates,” McGaughy said. “We came to practice everyday to work and the word of the week was ‘great’ and we showed that tonight.”

When asked about the feeling in the locker room after being down, McGaughy says the confidence never wavered.

“We knew that they didn’t get our best shot, but we got theirs,” McGaughy said. “So coming out of halftime, we knew we didn’t play our best half so we came out with a different level of intensity.”

For Benton (0-3), it’s a heartbreaker. Down 6-12 with 1:17 left in the first half, Benton quarterback Caden Stone threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Garison Dydell to give Benton the lead and momentum going into half-time. Head coach Kevin Keeton just felt his team was not able to execute coming out of the half.

“What a phenomenal second half [Lafayette] played,” Keeton said. “And we didn’t. It’s a simple game. They executed, we did not. We lost our composure a little bit and you can see the result.”

After Benton fumbled on their opening possession of the second-half, McGaughy took it himself and scored a five-yard touchdown to give Lafayette the lead.

Two possessions and another McGaughy rushing touchdown later, Benton quarterback Caden Stone threw an interception to Miles Henderson who took it all they way for a touchdown. This gave Lafayette a 33-13 lead and ultimately ended Benton’s chances.

Although Benton is now 0-3 on the season but Keeton believes his team is better than their record shows and it will take his leaders to turn this season around.

“I challenged our senior to keep this thing moving, to keep this together,” Keeton said. “I believe we are a good football team, I really do. In each game that we have lost, we have seen spurts of what we can become and then we will stub our toe. I challenge the seniors of this football team to keep this thing together.”

Lafayette ]will play home against Savannah next week. Benton will be on the road at Adrian.

Chris Tenpenny can be reached

at chris.tenpenny@newspressnow.com.