SAND HILLS - Cody Saunders and Torri Cotton were sharp on Friday. David Elmore and Bozeman need some more tuning.
The Arnold duo was responsible for three touchdowns in the first half to stoke the Marlins’ 28-0 kickoff classic win over the Bucks. They also combined for 202 of Arnold’s 246 yards in the opening 24 minutes. The Bucks were held in check against their larger-school opponent.
Cotton, a running back, opened the scoring with a 19-yard sprint on the game’s initial possession. The drive encompassed nine plays and 68 yards and set the immediate tone.
Saunders, Arnold’s starting quarterback, found Stephen Benedik on a 28-yard reception to end an 88-yard drive, and backup place-kicker Nick Guzman added the extra point for a 14-0 Marlin advantage. Saunders capped his night with a 16-yard scamper four minutes into the second quarter.
Saunders was 9 for 13 for 140 passing yards. Cotton gained 62 yards on four carries before both took a seat on the bench on Arnold’s last possession of the first half.
“They picked up right where they left off,” Arnold coach Josh Wright said. “And we had some guys show they have a place, like (Dolan) Poole, (Paul) Patterson and Benedik to complement them.”
Meanwhile, Elmore was held to 29 yards on seven carries. Bozeman lost the ball on a botched handoff on its first drive. Elmore also lost a later fumble, and a high snap over his head led to a punt on the Bucks’ third possession.
Bozeman gained 54 yards in the first half, all coming on the ground. The Bucks attempted only one pass when falling behind 21-0. Elmore played into the third quarter and added two rushes for minus-11 yards and another incomplete pass.
Bozeman also lost another fumble on an exchange late in the third. It ended the Bucks’ deepest penetration inside the Arnold 10.
“We’re still looking for a center to get the ball back to our quarterback on a consistent basis,” Bozeman coach Lyle Messer said. “We had too many tunovers.”
Messer said Bozeman will improve.
“We got to compete against a team that will be as good as we’ve faced this season,” Messer said. “We’ll be better having played this game.”
Arnold opens the season next week hosting Holmes County, while Bozeman entertains Bratt Northview.
Arnold 14 7 7 0 — 28
Bozeman 0 0 0 0 — 0
AHS: Cotton 19 run (Guzman kick) 7:55, 7-0 AHS
AHS: Benedik 28 pass from Saunders (Guzman kick) 2:19, 14-0
AHS: Saunders 16 run (Guzman kick) 7:49, 21-0
AHS: Powell 35 run (Guzman kick) 7:36, 28-0