Heber Springs comes up short against Clinton, 28-27
HEBER SPRINGS – It was a tale of penalties in the final eight minutes that helped decide the “Battle of the Little Red” Friday night at Panther Stadium as Clinton claimed a 28-27 victory.
Tied at 21-all, Clinton go the benefit of a pass interference call on a second-and-long play that helped move the ball from the Clinton 29 to the Clinton 44. Eight plays later on fourth-and-4, Yellowjacket quarterback Weston Amos connected with Austin Drake for a 17-yard touchdown with 4:25 to play to put Clinton up 27-21. On the extra-point attempt, a high snap forced Amos was forced to scramble. He connected with the pass attempt that was stopped short of the goal line, but a roughing the passer penalty was called giving Clinton another shot. This time senior Matt Gonzalez was able to get the kick off and give the Yellowjackets the lead at 28-21 .
After a 13-yard kickoff return by junior Matthew Cook, a holding call and false-start penalty pushed Heber Springs back to it’s own 15-yard line. From there, seniors Adam Martin and Julio Rubio put the Panthers on their backs and marched downfield. A 13-yard run by Martin and a 12- and 5-yard run by Rubio gave Heber Springs a first-down. After a four-yard run by Martin, the senior signal-caller connected with all-conference performer Tri Johnson for another first down moving the ball to the Yellowjacket 45. Two plays later Rubio took the ball and ran straight up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown run with 1:20 to play.
Senior Jackson Harrod was sent out to attempt the extra point, but Clinton was whistled for being offsides moving the ball half the distance to the goal line. Instead of attempting to tie the game and potentially send the “Battle of the Little Red River” into overtime for the first time since 1989, Heber Springs coach Will Cox decided to go for the lead and potentially the win with the two-point conversion. A high snap slowed Martin’s momentum and he was stopped just short of the end zone with his helmet touching the goal-line, but the ball just short.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Clinton’s Tye Pruitt and the Yellowjackets ran out the clock for the win.
“We were going to kick the extra (point), then we got the penalty,” Cox said.
“Really our offense had been moving well, and I felt good where we were at. I thought they were playing on the heals a bit and got aggressive, tried to win it right there. It’s tough, that’s a tough one. I think in the same situation, I would probably do that again. I feel very confident in our offense and being able to do that.”
Martin paced Heber Springs on the ground by rushing 25 times for 161 yards, while Rubio carried the ball 12 times for 94 yard and three touchdowns.
Heber Springs will travel to 5A Greenbrier on Friday night.
SERIES: Since the inception of the “Battle of the Little Red” trophy, Clinton has won all four meetings between the two schools and now leads the all-time series, 40-38-5.
SOMETHING WITH 28: In three of the four wins by Clinton since the inception of the “Battle of the Little Red”, the Yellowjackets have scored 28 points, the only exception was 36-34 win in 2018 in Clinton.
CLOSE GAMES: 24 games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less, including Friday night’s contest.
HONORARY CAPTAINS: Former Clinton, and Harding University, quarterback Park Parish was the honorary captain for the Yellowjackets while members of the “chain gang” from the 1970s, 80s and 90s were honorary captains for Heber Springs. Ron Gillispie, Tom Bly, Rodney Bise, Denver Gillispie, Ben Rorie, Tommy Park, Win Hargus and Travis Howard.
COIN TOSS: Tom Bly did the coin flip which was won by Heber Springs.
FIGHT LIKE A KID: Cara Morehead of Fight Like at Kid/Make A Wish was on hand to receive a pregame donation from members of Heber Springs and Clinton school administrations. The two communities raised $9,708 dollars to help grant a wish for a Greers Ferry Lake area child.
STUFF THE BUS: Heber Springs and Clinton were involved in a friendly competition that involved being awarded points for donating food for each school’s food banks as well as a diapers/baby wipes that were donated to “The Call” in each community. Heber Springs finished with 19,851 points while Clinton finished with 4,902. As a result, Heber Springs won the “Community Impact Award” banner for 2019.
INVOCATION: Caleb Parish, a member of the Heber Springs Fellowship of Christian Athletes, presented the pregame invocation.
ONSIDE KICK: For the second year in a row, Heber Springs won the opening toss, but Clinton elected to attempt an onside kick, as they did in 2018. They recovered the ball both times.
STATE RECORD AND COUNTING: As a team, Heber Springs has connected on 105 extra-point kicks which is a team state record. Julian Cameron connected on 100 straight before graduating last season. Graduated senior Seth Dickson also connected on two extra point kicks in 2018. Friday night, Jackson Harrod was three-for-three to continue the streak.
FOX 16’s FEARLESS FRIDAY: For the second year in a row, Wess Moore’s Fox 16 Fearless Friday show had a crew at the “Battle of the Little Red”. Last season, Jay Bir was on the sidelines. This year, Stephanie Sharp covered the game for the Little Rock television station.
Clinton: 3 plays, minus 9 yards, 2:20. Start: Clinton 47. Result: Punt. Key Plays: Clinton recovered an onside kick to start the contest. On third down, a high snap resulted in an 18-yard loss.
Heber Springs: 12 plays, 68 yards, 4:55. Start: Heber Springs 32. Result: Landon Johnson 3-yard touchdown run. Jackson Harrod extra-point kick. Key Plays: A 21-yard run on a quarterback draw by Adam Martin on the second play of the drive to move the ball to the Clinton 39. A 7-yard run by Landon Johnson on fourth-and-three from the Clinton 32, and a Johnson 13-yard run to move the ball to the Clinton 3. Score: Heber Springs 7, Clinton 0. Coach Cox: “We really thought with how they were defensively that we could spread them out with our skill, and that would open some running lanes with Adam. Kinda pick your poison, if they fill the box then we could throw it out; and if they spread it out to cover our pass, then Adam could make some plays with his feet. He really showed that.”
Clinton: 7 plays, 72 yards, 2:15. Start: Clinton 28. Result: 17-yard touchdown run by Jordan Hinchey. Matt Gonzalez kick. Key Plays: On fourth-and-19 at the Clinton 19, Weston Amos ran for an eight-yard gain, but a 15-yard face mask penalty moved the ball to the Clinton 42. On the next play, another unsportsmanlike penalty on Heber Springs moved the ball to the Heber Springs 25. Score: Heber Springs 7, Clinton 7.
Heber Springs: 7 plays, 47 yards, 2:57. Start: Heber Springs 21 Result: Clinton interception. Key Plays: On third down from the Heber Springs 41, Rubio carried the ball to the Heber Springs 46. After a first-down pass from Martin to Nathan McKee went for 22 yards, a ball went out of the hands of Tri Johnson into the awaiting arms of Clinton’s Kadence Sowell. Coach Cox: ” I have some much trust in Tri. I know he can make big plays and I’ve seen him do it before. What he’s done so far is just so impressive in what kind of athlete he is, and what kind of player he is. I have complete confidence in what he can do.”
Clinton: 4 plays, 9 yards, 1:14. Start: Clinton 42. Result: Turnover on downs. Key Play: On fourth-and-2 from the Heber Springs 49, Amos was stopped a yard short by Landon Johnson and Julio Rubio. Coach Cox: “Our guys flew around. We finished with (giving up) 28 and that’s more than what we want to give up defensively, but I really like the way were flying around. We had 11 guys chasing trying to make a play every time and that’s another thing we can take from this game.”
Heber Springs: 9 plays, 51 yards, 4:16. Start: Heber Springs 49. Result: Julio Rubio 13-yard touchdown run. Jackson Harrod PAT kick. Key plays: On fourth-and-1 at the Clinton 28, Martin picked up seven yards to extend the chains. After being sacked on first down, Martin gained 13 yards on third-and-16 from the Clinton 27 to make it a fourth-and-2 for Rubio’s touchdown run. Score: Heber Springs 14, Clinton 7. Score: Heber Springs 14, Clinton 7. Coach Cox: “I think that was a big question mark for everybody was, ‘how are we going to be able to run the ball graduating Blaze Nelson?’ This offensive line, these backs and Adam really showed that we are team that can still run the ball so that was exciting to see for sure.”
Clinton: 8 plays, 71 yards, 3:17. Start: Clinton 29. Result: Jordan Hinchey 2-yard touchdown run. Gonzalez PAT kick. Key Plays: An 18-yard run by Nicholas Epley on the first play of the drive to move the ball to the Clinton 47, and an 18-yard run by Hinchey to push it to the Panther 16. Score: Heber Springs 14, Clinton 14.
Heber Springs: 6 plays, 24 yards, 2:46. Start: Heber Springs 29. Result: End of half. Key Play: Martin rushed for six yards on a third-and-five to extend the drive, but a sack two plays later ended the half. Halftime score: Heber Springs 14, Clinton 14.
Clinton: 13 plays, 75 yards, 5:18. Start: Clinton 25. Result: 10-yard touchdown run by Logan Moudy. Gonzalez PAT kick. Key Plays: On third-and-2 from the Clinton 32, Weston Amos rushed for 23 yard to move the ball to the Panther 45. On third-and-12 from the Heber Springs 27, Amos connected with Austin Drake for a 15-yard, first-down completion. Score: Clinton 21, Heber Springs 14.
Heber Springs: 3 plays, 5 yards, 2:00. Start: Heber Springs 30. Result: Adam Martin punt. Key Play: A false-start penalty on first down stalled the drive.
Clinton: 8 plays, 12 yards, 4:42. Start: Clinton 23. Result: Punt. Key Play: A Tri Johnson sack on third down forced a Clinton punt.
Heber Springs: 8 plays, 60 yards, 2:43. Start: Heber Springs 40. Result: Julio Rubio 2-yard touchdown run. Jackson Harrod PAT kick. Key Plays: On third-and-3 from the Panther 47, Adam Martin rushed six yards for a first down. On first-and-10 from the Clinton 27, Martin ran 25 yards to put the ball on the Clinton 2. Score: Heber Springs 21, Clinton 21. Coach Cox: “They have a lot of character. It’s really good group. There are some really good senior leaders and they really laid it out there. Proud of the way they competed.”
Clinton: 10 plays, 70 yards, 4:52. Start: Clinton 30. Result: Weston Amos to Austin Drake 17-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. Matt Gonzalez PAT kick. Key Plays: On second-and-11 from the Clinton 29, a defensive pass interference call put the ball on the Clinton 44. On the first play after the call, Ethen Drake picked up 19 yards to move the ball to the Panther 35. After a high snap on the extra-point attempt, Amos scrambled and completion was two yards short but a roughing the passer called allowed for the successful PAT kick. Score: Clinton 28, Heber Springs 21. Coach Cox: “There were some tough calls. Didn’t see the late hit on the quarterback, I had my eyes down here (at the other end of the field). These refs were good to us all game as far as communicating. We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to make them.”
Heber Springs: 9 plays, 66 yards, 3:05. Start: Heber Springs 34. Result: Julio Rubio 39-yard touchdown run. Two-point run failed. Key Plays: A 13-yard run by Adam Martin on first-and-29 play from the Panther 15 followed by 12-yard run by Rubio. Score: Clinton 28, Heber Springs 27.
Clinton: 4 plays, 22 yards, 1:20. Start: Clinton 42. Result: End of game. Key Plays: Tye Pruitt recovered the onside kick and a 19-yard run by Jordan Hinchey to give Clinton a first down. Score: Clinton 28, Heber Springs 27. Coach Cox: “This is a good senior group. It hurts and I know it hurts them, but they have been through more adversity than this and responded well.”
PANTHER PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Clinton 7 7 7 7 - 28 Heber Springs 7 7 0 13 - 27 FIRST QUARTER Heber Springs - Landon Johnson 3-yard run (Jackson Harrod kick), 4:45 Clinton - Jordan Hinchey 17-yard run (Matt Gonzalez kick), 2:30 SECOND QUARTER Heber Springs - Julio Rubio 13-yard run (Harrod kick), 6:03 Clinton - Hincey 2-yard run (Gonzalez kick), 2:46 THIRD QUARTER Clinton - Logan Moudy 10-yard run (Gonzalez kick), 6:42 FOURTH QUARTER Heber Springs - Rubio 2-yard run (Harrod kick), 9:17 Clinton - Weston Amos to Austin Drake 17-yard pass (Gonzalez kick), 4:25 Heber Springs - Rubio 39-yard run (run failed), 1:20
Heber Springs coach Will CoxIt stings as a rivalry game. I tell you what it stings the hardest because I know how hard these kids worked. I wanted this win for them. I wanted the win for the community, but I wanted the win for these boys because they earned it. These kids fought. They fought the whole game. That’s a good Clinton team and our kids fought. I told them at the end of the game that’s something we can build on and that’s something that can help us make this a special run.
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 17, Clinton 17 First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 2, Clinton 2 First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Clinton 2 Total First Downs: Heber Springs 19, Clinton 21 Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 6/9, Clinton 4/8 Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/3, Clinton 1/2 Time of Possession: Heber Springs 22:52, Clinton 24:08 Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 1/1, Clinton 1/0 Turnovers: Heber Springs 2, Clinton 0 Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 9/76, Clinton 7/46 Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 54/344/6.4, Clinton 55/295/5.4 Rushing: Heber Springs 50/314/6.3, Clinton 43/244/5.7 Passing: Heber Springs 2/4-30-0/1, Clinton 5/12-51-1/0 Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 1/14, Clinton 2/10 Punts: Heber Springs 1/42/42, Clinton 2/70/35
OFFENSE RUSHING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 25/161/6.5; Julio Rubio 12/94/7.8; Landon Johnson 13/59/4.5. Clinton, Jordan Hinchey 14/104/6.5; Ethen Drake 7/57/8.1; Nicholas Epley 5/41/8.2; Weston Amos 13/35/2.7; Logan Moudy 2/11/5.5; Team 2/(-4)/(-2). RUSHING RUNS OF 30+: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio (1). RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (2), Julio Rubio (1). Clinton, Weston Amos (1), Ethen Drake (1). RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (6), Julio Rubio (3), Landon Johnson (1). Clinton, Jordan Hinchey (4), Weston Amos (2), Ethen Drake (2), Nicholas Epley (2), Logan Moudy (1). PASSING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 2/4-30-0/1. Clinton, Weston Amos 5/12-51-1/0. RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1/24/24, Tri Johnson 1/6/6. Clinton, Austin Drake 2/32/16; Nicholas Epley 2/15/7.5; Ethen Drake 1/7/7. RECEPTIONS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee (1). TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 191, Julio Rubio 94, Landon Johnson 59. Clinton, Jordan Hinchey 104, Weston Amos 86, Ethen Drake 57, Nicholas Epley 41, Logan Moudy 11, Team (-4). PUNT RETURNS: None KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 1/13, Tri Johnson 1/7. Clinton, Austin Drake 2/33/16.5 FUMBLE RETURNS: None INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Clinton, Kadence Sowell 1/12. ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 161, Julio Rubio 94, Landon Johnson 59, Nathan McKee 24, Tri Johnson 13, Matthew Cook 13. Clinton, Jordan Hinchey 104, Austin Drake 65, Ethen Drake 64, Nicholas Epley 56, Weston Amos 35, Kadence Sowell 12, Logan Moudy 11, Team (-4). DEFENSE TACKLES (Shared/Solo/Total): Heber Springs, Fate Berry 8/3/11, Nathan McKee 6/4/10, Landon Johnson 1/5/6; Tri Johnson 2/3/5; Levy Phillips 4/1/5; Lawrence Baureis 0/5/5; Kaden Hughes 2/2/4; Hunter Kent 1/3/4; Matthew Cook 2/1/3; Jackson West 1/1/2; Trent Barnes 0/1/1; Preston Jones 0/1/1. Clinton, Jordan Hinchey 6/7/13; Ryan Jones 7/3/10; Kadence Sowell 2/4/7; Ethen Drake 3/1/4; Jayden Exzabe 2/2/4; Kenneth Ethridge 0/4/4; Austin Drake 2/1/3; Nicholas Epley 0/3/3; Blaine Emberton 2/1/3; Chase Blanton 2/1/3; Hunter Johnson 2/1/3; Logan Moudy 0/1/1; Matt Gonzalez 1/0/1; Cade Treadaway 0/1/1; David Henson 1/0/1. TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs, Kaden Hughes 2, Landon Johnson 1, Tri Johnson 1, Fate Berry 1. Clinton, Ryan Jones 1, Jordan Hinchey 1, Jayden Exzabe 1. SACKS: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 1/14. Clinton, Ryan Jones 1/7, Jayden Exzabe 1/3. INTERCEPTIONS: Clinton, Kadence Sowell 1/12. FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Clinton, Nicholas Epley 1/0.
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