Junior Panthers open with win over Clinton

Heber Springs ninth-grader Liam Buffalo looks for an open receiver in the junior Panthers, 34-32, win over Clinton Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

HEBER SPRINGS – Heber Springs Liam Buffalo rushed for 143 and a pair of touchdowns, and passed for another, as the junior Panthers opened their season with a 32-28 nonconference victory over Clinton.

The two teams will meet again on Oct. 28 in Clinton in a conference contest.

On Thursday, the Panthers were limited to eight offensive possessions and 23 plays from scrimmage, but made the most of them. Heber Springs scored four times, punted once, had a drive stall at midfield and had drives ended by the half and game.

On the Panthers first play from scrimmage, Weston Warden took a pitch from Buffalo and raced 68 yards to put Heber Springs on top with less than 15 seconds gone in the game. Buffalo ran in the 2-point conversion.

The two teams traded punts before the Panther defense forced another Yellowjacket punt as Warden returned the Brodie Dufrene punt 19 yards to the Clinton 33 with 1:41 left in the first quarter.

On the next play, Buffalo kept the ball and rambled 33 yards for the score. Buffalo connected with Carter Julian for the 2-point conversion and the Panthers led 16-0 with 1:31 to play in the quarter.

After another Clinton punt, Heber Springs took over on their own 39, but a penalty pushed the Panthers back 15 yards and killed the drive at the 41.

From there, Clinton moved the ball 41 yards on a six-play drive that Dufrene capped off with a 1-yard run. Dufrene connected Sam Standridge for the 2-point conversion with 4:24 to play in the half.

The Yellowjackets onside-kick failed and Heber Springs took over at the Clinton 49. After an 11-yard run by Buffalo, the ninth-grader connected with Julian for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Buffalo ran in the 2-point conversion and Heber Springs led 24-8 with 4:03 left in the half.

Clinton then killed all but 10 seconds of the second quarter with a 13-play, 60-yard drive that Rope Williams capped with a 1-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion failed as Heber Springs led 24-14 at the break.

The Yellowjackets took the second-half kickoff and then proceeded with an 18-play, 70-yard drive that ate all of the third-quarter clock and two minutes of the fourth quarter as Zack Hunt-Gonzalez scored from seven yards. Joshua Fultz scored the 2-point conversion on a pass from Dufrene.

Just over 30 seconds later, Heber Springs answered as Buffalo hit Seth Dudeck for a 42-yard completion and then ran the ball in from the 16 on the next play. Buffalo connected with Warden for the 2-point conversion and Heber Springs led 32-22 with 5:20 to play.

Clinton would not go quietly scoring another touchdown less than three minutes when Hunt-Gonzalez scored on a 2-yard run. The 2-point conversion failed.

Buffalo ran for 18 yards and connected with Warden for another 18 yards as the Panthers were able to kill the clock and earn the win.

Heber Springs finished the night with almost 300 yards of total offense despite missing several starters due to Covid protocols.

Heber Springs will return to action on Sept. 9 at Harding Academy in a nonconference contest.

HEBER SPRINGS/CLINTON GAME STATS

FIRST DOWNS: HS 10, C 15
PENALITIES: HS 3/35, C 5/25
RUSHING: HS 14/194/13.9, C 42/90/2.1
FUMBLES: HS 0, C 0
PASSING (C/A-YARDS) HS 4/9-98, C 9/15-87
INTERCEPTIONS: HS 0, C 0
SACKED-YARDS LOST: HS 0, C 1-8
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 292, C 177
TURNOVERS: HS 0, C 0
ONSIDE KICKS: HS 0/0, C 0/3
2-PT CONVERSIONS: HS 4/4, C 2/4
PUNTS/AVG: HS 1/48, C 3/29.3

RUSHING (ATT/YARDS/TDS): HS, Liam Buffalo 8/143/2, Weston Warden 3/65/1, Logan Rutledge 1/(-2), Team 2/(-12). Clinton, Rope Williams 12/37/1, Rylan Jones 11/40, Zack Hunt-Gonzalez 10/45/2, Brodie Dufrene 5/3/1, Sam Standridge 3/4, Brayson Littell 1/1. 
PASSING (COMP/ATT-YARDS-TDS/INTS): HS, Buffalo 4/9-98-1/0. Clinton, Dufrene 9/14-87-0/0, Littell 0/1-0-0/0
RECEIVING: HS, Seth Dudeck 1/42, Carter Julian 1/38/1, Warden 1/12, Rutledge 1/10. Clinton, Standridge 3/29, Jones 3/20, Liam Hudson 2/25, Williams 1/13.

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH SCHEDULE

(All Games Start at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 26 – Heber Springs 32, Clinton 28

Sep. 09 – at Harding Academy

Sep. 16 – Dover

Sep. 23 – at Lonoke *

Sep. 28 – Stuttgart *

Oct. 07 – at Central Arkansas Christian *

Oct. 14 – Bald Knob *

Oct. 21 – at Southside Batesville *

Oct. 28 – at Clinton *

(* – Denotes conference contest)

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH ROSTER

(Alphabetical and listed with grade)

8TH- Eli Buffalo

9TH – Liam Buffalo

8TH- Caleb Carr

9TH – Axley Davis

8TH- Seth Dudeck

8TH- Jack Duvall

8TH- Emitt Dwyer

9TH- Tyler Dye

8TH- Nate Eaton

9TH – Luke Elliott

8TH – Nash Farmer

8TH- Lucas Garcia

8TH – Britt Grice

8TH- Cooper Holmes

8TH- Cade James

8TH- Tripp Johnston

8TH – Elijah Jones

9TH – Carter Julian

9TH – Jacob McMullin

9TH – Justin Newton

9TH – Braidyn Ogle

9TH – Gauge Owens

8TH – Casey Pearce

9TH – Crimson Pettigrew

9TH – Logan Rutledge

8TH- Jeremiah Sanders

8TH- Seth Smith

9TH – Damien Standridge

9TH- Weston Warden

9TH- Ty West

8TH – John Wilson

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