September 7, 2018
By PHILIP SEATON
HEBER SPRINGS – Greenbrier took advantage of Heber Springs’ miscues and turnovers to cruise to a 41-16 victory Friday night in nonconference action at Panther Stadium.
The Faulkner County Panthers scored 10 points off of Heber Springs’ turnovers, took advantage a poor punt for another score and watched on defense as Heber Springs’ penalties and miscues stalled several drives.
It was the fourth consecutive season for Heber Springs (0-2) to open with a loss at home and the fifth consecutive loss to Class 5A Greenbrier (2-0) in the series that dates back to 1969.
Heber Springs, which also started 0-2 last season but bounced back to win a share of the 2-4A conference title, will close out nonconference play Friday night when the Panthers tangle with Harding Academy in Searcy. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Greenbrier took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards on 9 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 8:17 left in the first quarter. Seth Howard, who finished the night with 10 carries for 80 yards, capped off the drive with a four-yard run.
Senior Rocky Finney put the Panthers in good position on the ensuing kickoff with a 48-yard return that left the ball on the Greenbrier 38. On Heber Springs’ first play from scrimmage, senior Blaze Nelson picked up a 14 yards on the ground, but a pair of holding penalties would stall the drive with 6:09 left in the opening quarter.
Greenbrier would take over on its own 20 and was marching down field for another apparent score before the Panthers created a turnover. After Andrew Johnson connected with Bryce Morehart for a 22-yard pick-up, Nelson popped the ball free from Morehart at the Panther 14. Finney scooped it up and raced 31 yards to put the ball at midfield with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
From there, Nelson took over with runs of 21-, 17-, 7- and 6-yards to push the ball into the endzone with 2:28 to play in the first quarter. The PAT failed after a low snap prevented the kick from being attempted – the Panthers were playing without the services of senior center Bradey Adkins who was on the sidelines in street clothes. Nelson finished the first quarter with six carries for 64 yards, but would only pick-up 16 more yards the rest of the contest.
The Panther defense held Greenbrier on its next possession to force a punt, but the return was fumbled giving the Faulkner County Panthers possession on the Heber Springs’ 18 with 10.4 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Three plays later, Trey Havens plunged in from the 1 and after Cody Powell’s PAT kick, Greenbrier led 14-6 with 11:37 to play in the half.
Another good kick-off return, this time by Nelson for 27 yards, put the Panthers at midfield to start their next possession. Junior Adam Martin connected with Tri Johnson for an 8-yard, first-down completion to push the ball to the Greenbrier 40 and then followed that up with a 17-yard strike to Finney to move it to the 23. The drive stalled after Nelson was unable to get untracked on three consecutive carries bringing on junior Julian Cameron, who connected on the 35-yard field-goal attempt to pull the Panthers to within five at 14-9 with 8:17 left in the second quarter.
Greenbrier wasted little time in responded moving 70 yards in five plays as Howard broke free for a 32-yard score to make it 21-9 Greenbrier at the 7:06 mark of the second quarter.
A three-and-out by Heber Springs’ on its next possession would later lead to more points for Greenbrier. The Faulkner County Panthers marched to the Heber Springs 5 before the Panthers’ defense held leaving Greenbrier to settle for a 20-yard Cody Powell field goal to make 24-9 with 2:57 to play before the half.
Greenbrier left no doubt in the second half taking a 34-9 lead with 8:12 to play in the third quarter. Andrew Johnson connected with Brody Johnson on a 24-yard touchdown strike on Greenbrier’s first play from scrimmage in the second half after a zero-yardage punt gave the Faulkner County Panthers excellent field position at the 10:07 mark.
Greenbrier took advantage of a Panther turnover to add a 29-yard Powell field goal with 8:12 left in the third.
Heber Springs moved the ball down the field to the Greenbrier 2 behind the running of Dalton Hall and the pass-catch duo of Martin and Finney, but the Panthers couldn’t punch it turning the ball over on downs with 2:56 to play in the third quarter.
The Panther defense forced a three-and-out on Greenbrier’s next drive and Heber Springs took over at the Greenbrier 30. However, the drive fizzled at the 15 and the 32-yard field-goal attempt by Cameron was no good with 10:41 to play.
Greenbrier followed with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that Ty Embry capped off with a 4-yard run to put the Panthers up, 41-9.
Heber Springs would tack on the last score of the contest with an 11-play, 71-yard drive that culminated with a Martin connecting with Nathan McKee with a 22-yard touchdown pass. Cameron’s PAT set the final score at 41-16 with 33.9 seconds left.
Martin finished the night 16-of-27 passing for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Nelson rushed for 80 yards on 13 carries and finished with 14 total tackles, including 12 unassisted.
BY THE NUMBERS
First Downs: Heber Springs 17, Greenbrier 21
Rushing: Heber Springs 34-167, Greenbrier 30-169
Passing: Heber Springs 16-of-27 for 142 yards, Greenbrier 19 of 34 for 335 yards
Total Offense: Heber Springs 306, Greenbrier 494
Penalties: Heber Springs 5-45, Greenbrier 7-60
Turnovers: Heber Springs 3, Greenbrier 1
INDIVIDUAL: Rushing, Blaze Nelson 13-80, Dalton Hall 8-49, Nicholas Hitchcock 7-31, Adam Martin 5-5, Julio Rubio 1-2. Greenbrier, Trey Havens 11-43, Seth Howard 10-78, Ty Embry 5-29, Andrew Johnson 2-17, Logan King 1-6, Team 1-(-4).
Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 16-27-2 142. Greenbrier, Andrew Johnson 19-34-0 335
Receiving: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 6-63, Blaze Nelson 5-18, Nathan McKee 2-33, Seth Dickeson 2-20, Tri Johnson 1-8. Greenbrier, Brody Johnson 5-105, Jason Kuykendall 4-99, Bryce Morehart 3-35, Talon Moore 2-62, Ryan Barnard 2-20, Seth Howard 2-9, Trey Havens 1-5.
All-Purpose Yards: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 190, Blaze Nelson 140, Dalton Hall 49, Nathan McKee 41, Tri Johnson 32, Nicholas Hitchcock 31, Seth Dickeson 20, Adam Martin 5, Julio Rubio 2. Greenbrier, Brody Johnson 127, Jason Kuykendall 99, Seth Howard 87, Talon Moore 62, Trey Havens 48, Bryce Morehart 35, Ty Embry 29, Logan King 24, Ryan Barnard 20, Andrew Johnson 17.