WASHINGTON — Dunlap dominated on defense again, and running back Luke Bennyhoff was off to the races for four scores before Washington could make a mark in a 28-14 victory at Babcook Field.

The Eagles (6-0, 4-0), ranked fourth in Class 5A, are alone atop the Mid-Illini Conference following the win over sixth-ranked Panthers (4-2, 3-1).

“They were what we said they were going to be; we knew they were going to be tough,” Washington coach Darrell Crouch said. “Bennyhoff is a tough runner. (Charlie) Mangieri is a tough blocker for them. They managed the game pretty well offensively and they churned some clock (in the) first half and second half.”

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After a scoreless first quarter, in which the longest gain for either team was a 14-yard Bennyhoff run, Dunlap’s senior running back took the first handoff of the second quarter for a 50-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles ahead 7-0.

Nearly five minutes later on Bennyhoff’s next handoff, he took it 39 yards for his second of four touchdowns to give Dunlap a 14-0 edge with 6:49 left in the half.

Four minutes later, Bennyhoff punched in from one yard and it was 21-0 Eagles.

“The line was blocking well and all the guys were pulling great,” Bennyhoff said. “Charlie had a couple good blocks on the linebackers and it just let me go free.”

Washington’s offense struggled to move the ball, gaining 46 yards of total offense in the first half.

After receiving the second-half kickoff, Dunlap faced a third-and-15 from its own 39 when Bennyhoff broke a 61-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead with 8:49 left in the third quarter.

“Our defense was fantastic in the first half and then our run game was excellent,” Dunlap coach Brett Cazalet said. “Luke made a couple of great runs where really they kind of had it bottled up and he bounced it to the outside.”

The Panthers made adjustments on offense on their first drive of the second half and marched down the field for a score. Caleb Fisher found Logan Klein on a nine-yard out route to pull within 28-7 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

Washington got a short field after a short punt, the Panthers took over at Dunlap’s 38. Payton Newkirk made a great catch on Fisher’s five-yard touchdown pass which bounced off the hands of intended receiver Cole Ludolph. That cut it to 28-14 with 6:18 left in the game.

“It was just some of the things we had talked about in the week coming up with matchups we were trying to get and definitely trying to stay away from Luke because he’s their best dude,” Crouch said.

Dunlap gambled on a fourth down handoff to Bennyhoff with nearly three minutes left in the game. After spotting the ball, the officiating crew measured the spot, which was ruled a turnover on downs.

The Eagles sideline thought the chain gang member that marks the original spot on a new set of downs had moved the spot in Washington’s favor. Cazalet picked up a personal foul and a second one on the sideline got him ejected from the game on what he says was a “misunderstanding.”

After the penalties, Washington took over at the Dunlap 26. Two plays later, defensive end Josiah Miamen came up with his third sack. Mangieri followed with a sack to put the Panthers in a big hole; one they couldn’t get out of.

“Josiah’s a special talent and we’ve got two really good defensive ends in him and Ryan Erickson,” Cazalet said. “They can bring pretty good pressure and I thought once we got them in situations where they had to throw, those guys were able to focus on their pass rush.”

Dunlap’s win over Washington snaps an 11-game losing streak against the Panthers.

Aaron Ferguson can be reached at 686-3207 or aferguson@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sports_Aaron.