By Randy Speer, The Circuit
Running back DeAndre Turner-Fults has shown signs of breaking out for No. 15-ranked Benedictine.
He had the fewest carries among the three main carriers, but had the second most yards.
Saturday afternoon, he fully cemented his status within the stable of Raven running backs as he scored all three touchdowns in the 24-14 win over No. 18-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene at Larry Wilcox Stadium.
“I thought with the three backs, (Turner-Fults), Tyler Henness and Ejay Johnson, they all contributed in a critically important way,” Benedictine coach Larry Wilcox said.
Turner-Fults nearly doubled his season rushing stats with his break out performance, picking up 106 yards on 12 carries as a part of 256 total yards on the ground for the Ravens.
All of the junior’s touchdown runs came within the red zone, an area not typically associated with someone listed at 160 pounds.
“We felt like in those situations, possibly their defense was tiring a little bit and if they are losing a half a step and he already has a step on them, that’s simple math,” Wilcox said.
Senior Tyler Henness returned after missing last weeks game grinding out 91 yards on 17 carries. Junior Ejay Johnson, who entered the game as the Ravens leading rusher, finished 64 yards.
“We are the three-headed monster,” Turner-Fults said. “When we all get in there, one back gets the defense tired, then there is a fresh back coming in. We just keep rolling them in there.”
The running game hid the deficiencies that the passing attack struggled through. Quarterback Jacob Koester finished with a career worst 8 of 20 passing for 80 yards.
That marked the first time since 2010 that the Ravens finished with less than 100 yards passing. Ironically, that came against MidAmerica on Oct. 2 when then quarterback and current assistant coach Ryan Kelly finished 6 of 24 with four interceptions and 98 yards.
MidAmerica (3-1) got on the board first in the Heart of America game broadcasted on ESPN3. Trey Cooper found Gio Gonzalez on a nine-yard touchdown pass with 10 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first half.
The Ravens answered with Turner-Fult’s first touchdown of the game on a 12-yard scamper, tying the game up at 7-7, a score that would stand until halftime.
Coming out of the break, Benedictine took its first lead of the afternoon as Turner-Fults fought for a nine-yard touchdown run.
MidAmerica answered with Cooper finding Dalton Inlow in the waning seconds of the third quarter to tie the game back up at 14-all.
The Ravens finally capitalized on MidAmerica turnovers. Benedictine forced and recovered two Pioneer fumbles in the first half, but the offense failed to capitalize. The third, a forced fumble by senior Kenny
Hersberger and recovered by senior Tyler Thrasher, halted MidAmerica’s drive which had made its way to the Raven nine-yard line.
Benedictine (3-1) then ran its way to a nine play, 94-yard drive in which the ball never left the hands of the trio of running backs, resulting in Turner-Fult’s third touchdown run.
The Pioneers tried to restart their offense down 21-14, but Thrasher put an end to it on third-and-three interception.
Benedictine parlayed the pick into a Derek Rogers field goal with 2:44 left in the game. Rogers, who was awarded a $128,000 scholarship to the Navy at half time on Benedictine’s Stars and Stripes day, knocked in a 32-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 24-14 lead.