(Editor’s Note: The story was amended to remove reference on who threw the Panthers second interception)
BEEBE – Heber Springs and Class 5A Beebe tangled Tuesday night at Bro Erwin Stadium in a benefit scrimmage contest.
Beebe came out on top on the scoreboard, 34-7, in the controlled scrimmage.
Two of the Badgers touchdowns came on interceptions returned for touchdowns — one on a deflected pass off a Panther receiver, and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns — including one in the end zone on a blocked punt.
Outside the turnovers turned into points, the two teams managed to only a score each off the opposing defense.
The two teams starters began the contest with a 10-play series (regardless of turnovers). The Panthers were driving before Braden Sanders stepped in front of a John McBroome pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. No extra points were attempted in the series.
The Heber Springs defense stopped Beebe’s starters just short of the goal line on the 10th play.
The second 10-play set saw the second-teamers tangle with each other. Heber Springs drove deep into Badger territory after a couple of Xander Lindley pass completions and a run by Gideon Tate. However, Tate was stopped just inches short on the 10th play of the drive.
Heber Springs’ second-team defense stopped Beebe after a holding penalty against the Badgers cost them a 60-yard touchdown run. Tate came up with two fumble recoveries during the 10-play set.
After a short break, the teams played normal quarters. Heber Springs’ first series ended with a punt just short of the end zone and McBroome’s punt was blocked into the end zone where a Badger fell on the ball for the score.
Lindley connected with Easton Cusick with a pass to the Panther 49 before the drive stalled.
The Badgers turned the ball over on their next possession after Tate recovered his third fumble on the night.
The two teams traded possessions before the Panthers moved deep into Badger territory at the 14. On a first-and-10, Heber Springs had two open receivers in the end zone, but the pair both went for the ball at the same negating that scoring opportunity. A penalty pushed the Panthers back and the drive stalled.
Heber Springs got the ball back near the end of the quarter after Kenan Sneed intercepted a pass and returned to the Badger 15, but time expired before the Panthers could mount a serious scoring threat on the drive.
Beebe took the opening drive of the final stanza and moved down field thanks in part to a pair of long passes. The Badgers capped off the drive with a quarterback sneak.
The Panthers next possession ended with points for the Badgers after Sanders picked off his second pass of the night after the pass attempt hit the receivers hands bounced into the air and into Sanders arms, who returned 20 yards for the score.
It was the same story on Heber Springs’ next possession after a sack and a fumble that was returned for a score.
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore Parker Brown took the ball at the Panther 5, ran up the middle and then cut the outside in front the Panther bench. Beebe’s kicker nearly got Brown at the 50, but did enough to momentarily slow him as the Badgers finally brought him down at the 7.
Two plays later, McBroome connected with Cusick for a 10-yard scoring strike. Tate connected on the PAT.
The Panthers will be off until Sept. 3 when they travel to Newport for their season-opener.
The junior high team will scrimmage Beebe Thursday night at Panther Stadium.