Panthers battle Clarksville late

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Panthers trailed by 16 points early in the third quarter, but didn’t go away with a battle late in the fourth quarter against Clarksville.

Heber Springs rallied within five points, but the Panthers’ comeback bid came up short in the 68-51 loss to Clarksville in a 4-4A Conference basketball game at the Panther Den Tuesday.

“The players played well during the fourth quarter,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “We made shots, played with more intensity and made it a two-possession game. We couldn’t get the defensive stop.”

Clarksville led by 16 points with five minutes left in the third quarter. Heber Springs stayed close and pulled to within 46-34 going into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers reduced Clarksville’s lead to single digits on Ryan Crocker’s 3-pointer 53-45 with six minutes left in the game. Two minutes later, Conner Riddle drove and scored as Heber Springs trailed 55-50 with 3:53 to go. Clarksville finished the game on a 13-1 scoring run.

Riddle led the Panthers with 22 points, followed by Crocker’s 16 points. Owen Ashlock scored a game-high 27 points for Clarksville. John Case, who hit three 3-pointers, had 16 points. Hunter Buss, who made four 3-pointers, added 12 points.

“The players still are giving great effort and doing good things,” West said. “We’re trying to get over that hump during the fourth quarter. Conner played well, along with Ryan during the fourth quarter. The team tends to play better when Ryan plays well. We need him to play with more confidence and get going for the entire game.”

Clarksville emerged from a low-scoring first quarter with an 11-5 lead. The Panthers fell behind by double digits during the second quarter, but they remain within range and trailed 26-14 at halftime.

Heber Springs played even during the third quarter and trailed 46-34 going into the fourth quarter.

Clarksville’s 3-point shooting proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome.

“We knew they could shoot the threes,” West said. “No. 33 (Ashlock) worried us and we focused on containing him. Clarksville deserves credit for making the 3-point shots.”

Heber Springs (0-5 in conference, 1-15 overall) will play at Pottsville on Friday.

“We will be playing another good team,” West said. “The players still have a lot of fight left.”

Clarksville 11 15 20 22–68
Heber Springs 5   9 20 17–51
Clarksville scorers —  Owen Ashlock 27, John Case 16, Hunter Buss 12, Ryan Clark 6, Cody Qualls 4, Abel Dean 3.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 22, Ryan Crocker 16, Logan Monahan 8, J.T. Spears 3, Bauer Pruitt 2.

Sand Lizards dust Panthers in senior boys play

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Panthers scored the game’s first four points before Dardanelle changed the momentum midway through the first quarter of Friday’s 4-4A Conference basketball game.

Dardanelle responded with an 11-2 run and never trailed again as the Sand Lizards defeated the Panthers 63-29 at the Panther Den.

Gus Hannah converted a steal into a breakaway lay-up and Conner Riddle made two free throws for a 4-0 Heber Springs lead. Dardanelle tied the game at 4-4 when Chase Jordan made 2-of-4 free throws and scored on an inside move.

Marteez Jackson had back-to-back field goals as the Sand Lizards pulled ahead, 8-4. Zach Thomas made a short jumper, but Braden Tanner hit a 3-pointer, giving Dardanelle an 11-6 lead going into the second quarter.

The Sand Lizards built a 21-8 lead following a 10-2 scoring run during the next three minutes. Dardanelle outscored Heber Springs 11-6 for the remainder of the second quarter and led 32-15 at halftime.

The Panthers trailed 51-26 after three quarters.

Riddle led Heber Springs with 12 points. Jackson and Tanner each scored 14 points for Dardanelle. Kendall Bishop had 12 points.

The Panthers (0-4 in conference, 1-14 overall) will host conference foe Clarksville at 7:30 p.m. on senior night Tuesday.

Dardanelle 11 21 19 12–63
Heber Springs 6   9 11 3–29
Dardanelle scorers — Marteez Jackson 14, Braden Tanner 14, Kendall Bishop 12, Chase Jordan 9, Juaquin Torres 6, Jorge Alvarez 3, Sam Williams 2, Tyrus Spencer 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 12, Gus Hannah 5, Zach Thomas 4, Logan Monahan 2, Bauer Pruitt 2, Austin Winchester 2, Ryan Crocker 2

Ramblers defeat Panthers in nonconference tilt

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

It’s back to the grind of the 4-4A Conference basketball schedule for the Heber Springs Panthers.
Heber Springs lost at Sheridan in the first game since Christmas and dropped a 67-43 decision to Rose Bud at the Panther Den on Saturday.The Panthers (0-2 in conference, 1-12 overall) were scheduled to resume conference play at Morrilton on Tuesday.
Conner Riddle and Ryan Crocker scored 38 of the 43 points for Heber Springs. Riddle scored a game-high 24 points, followed by Crocker with 14 points. Rece Hipp led Rose Bud with 23 points and Jace Goodwin had 10 points.
“It was good to get back in the gym,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “A team can learn and improve more playing games than just practicing. We dug ourselves a big hole early in the game, trailing by 17 points at one point in the first half before reducing it to eight points by halftime. We came back for the second half and didn’t play with a lot of energy.”
Rose Bud scored 12 unanswered points to start the game. Riddle put the Panthers on the scoreboard with less than four minutes left in the first quarter by making two free throws.
Heber Springs played almost even during the next three minutes with the Ramblers. Rose Bud outscored the Panthers 9-7 and took a 21-9 lead into the second quarter.
The Ramblers increased their margin to 17 points before Crocker’s 3-pointer started a Heber Springs scoring run. The Panthers pulled to within five points at 24-19, but the Ramblers survived the charge and increased the lead to 34-26 by halftime.
Rose Bud went on an 18-9 scoring run during the third quarter for a 52-33 lead going in the final quarter.
“We had moments when we played well and moments we didn’t play as well,” West said. “We just need to focus on the next two games, which are against conference opponents. The players are still working hard and giving good effort. We need to find a way to get over the hump.”
Rose Bud 21 13 18 15–67
Heber Springs 9 17 7 10–43
Rose Bud scorers — Rece Hipp 23, Jace Goodwin 10, Jared Wray 9, Gavin Vaughn 7, Avery Orman 7, Matthew Waggoner 5, Dalton Gorham 4, Caden Heck 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 24, Ryan Crocker 14, Gus Hannah 4 Wyatt Winchester 1.

Ozark takes care of Heber Springs senior boys

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Panthers couldn’t overcome a slow start and lost to Ozark 57-28 in a 4-4A Conference basketball game at the Panther Den Friday.

It was the conference opener for the Hillbillies. The Panthers lost their conference opener at Subiaco Academy last week.

Ozark (1-0 in conference, 9-1 overall) built a 16-3 first-quarter lead and never trailed. The Panthers (0-2 in conference, 1-10 overall) picked up the pace during the second quarter. Ozark outscored Heber Springs 14-11 and led 30-14 at halftime.

The Hillbillies didn’t slow down during the second half and increased their lead to 43-22 going into the fourth quarter.

Garrett Schaffer scored a game-high 30 points for Ozark. Jaxson Harris had 12 points. Conner Riddle led the Panthers with 11 points.

Heber Springs will not play again until at Sheridan on Dec. 30. Home games scheduled this week with Newport and Cedar Ridge were canceled.

The next scheduled home game will be against Rose Bud on Jan. 2.

Ozark 16 14 13 14–57
Heber Springs 3 11 8 7–29
Ozark scoring — Garrett Schaffer 30, Jaxson Harris 12, Cooper Watson 4, Vanden Bush 3, Sebastian Ross 3, Jace Richard 3, Kayden McAnally 2.
Heber Springs scoring — Conner Riddle 11, Ryan Crocker 5, Logan Monahan 3, Wyatt Winchester 3, Gus Hannah 2, Dakota Farmer 2, Dylan Screeton 2, Bauer Pruitt 1

Panthers lead late, fall to Searcy

Heber Springs sophomore Conner Riddle dribbles past a Searcy defender Tuesday night at the Panther Den. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Ready or not, the Heber Springs Panthers will begin the
4-4A Conference basketball schedule at Subiaco Academy on Friday.

In a final tune-up, the Panthers (1-7) led 40-39 going into the fourth quarter against Class 6A Searcy at the Panther Den Tuesday before dropping a 60-55 decision to the Lions in a nonconference game.

“The guys competed hard,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “We made a lot of big shots during the first half and cooled off in the second half. Our defense was scrambling, and we were out of position at times, but the players gave great effort.”

Sophomore Conner Riddle scored a game-high 24  points for the Panthers. Braden Watson led Searcy with 16 points. Cameron Hicks contributed 14 points.

West said Riddle continues in his development not only as a scorer, but running the team’s offense.

“Conner had another great game,” West said. “He is handling the pressure of running the offense. He generated a lot of offense not only with his scoring, but getting the ball to other players for open shots.”

Ryan Crocker had one of his best performances this season by scoring 20 points.

“I challenged Ryan to be that type of player before the game,” West said. “He handled the pressure, did a good job of rebounding, utilized his size on defense and gave the other team a lot of trouble. He also did a good job of driving to the basket. We need to get that every game from him to do well in conference.”

After a 12-12 tie at the end of the first quarter, Heber Springs pulled ahead by scoring scoring quickly during the next two minutes. Logan Monahan made a 3-pointer and Riddle’s basket built the lead to 17-12.

Searcy responded with three unanswered baskets, but the Panthers regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Riddle, 20-18.

Searcy rallied for a 23-18 lead, but the Panthers finished the second quarter strong, outscoring the Lions 9-1 and led 29-24 at halftime.

Heber Springs survived a charge by the Lions during the third quarter. Crocker scored at the buzzer, giving the Panthers a 40-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Searcy took the lead midway through the fourth quarter and held off Heber Springs’ late challenge.

“Searcy switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense in the second half,” West said. “That was the difference in the game. I told the players before the game that the pressure was not on us to win because Searcy is a 6A school. The games that matter are conference games. We just need to go out there and give it our best shot, and we did that.”

Five nonconference games remain, but West said the team’s focus will be to become successful during conference play and make a run for the regional tournament.

“Games like against Searcy will help get us ready for conference play,” West said. “Our last two games (Riverview and Searcy) are similar teams in playing style of most of the conference teams. We are excited about Friday’s game.”

Searcy 12 12 15 21–60
Heber Springs 12 17 11 15–55
Searcy scorers — Braden Watson 16, Cameron Hicks 14, Ckyler Tenger 7, Jack Stafford 6, A’mariyon Briscoe 5, Willie Bowser 4, Landon Hambrick 2, Daniel Perry 2, Zyron Williams 2, Eli Wilson 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 24, Ryan Crocker 20, Logan Monahan 7, Gus Hannah 2, Austin Winchester 2.

Heber Springs claims first win of the season

IMG_8860
Heber Springs’ Logan Monahan looks for a teammate in action against Shirley. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The season’s first win didn’t come easy for the Heber Springs Panthers.
Heber Springs went on a 19-4 third-quarter scoring run and pulled away with a 55-41 nonconference basketball win against the Shirley Blue Devils at the Panther Den Tuesday.

The Panthers trailed late in the second quarter, but Bauer Pruitt’s 3-pointer with seconds left sent the team into the dressing room with a 28-27 halftime lead. Heber Springs led 47-31 going into the fourth quarter.

Heber Springs ended a 24-game losing streak. The last win came at Dover (37-32) on Dec. 10, 2019.

“These guys have been through so much for the past two weeks,” coach Dusty West said. “The players kept fighting after they played three tough opponents (Batesville, Greenbrier and Guy-Perkins). We took our licks in those games. The players showed their maturity and composure.”

Ryan Crocker led a balanced scoring attack with 11 points for the Panthers. Conner Riddle and Gus Hannah each had eight points. Nash Little scored a game-high 17 points for Shirley. Arrick Nowell contributed nine points.

“It was a fun night, and they deserved this win,” West said. “The players refused to lose. Before the game, I drew a line on the board and told the players we will do what is needed to get across this line.”

Heber Springs held a four-point for most of the first quarter. Shirley tied the game at 7-7 midway through the quarter before back-to-back 3-pointers by Crocker and Zach Thomas broke the deadlock. Shirley pulled to within 13-12, but the Panthers answered and held an 18-13 lead going into the second quarter.

The Blue Devils remained close and took their first lead on Little’s 3-pointer, 26-25, with 1:30 left in the first half. Little made 1-of-2 free throws before Pruitt’s 3-pointer gave Heber Springs a 28-27 halftime lead.

“Our depth was a factor in the second  half,” West said. “Shirley had two good shooters, and we did a good job defending them. This was a good way to go into Thanksgiving.”

Heber Springs (1-4) will return to action by hosting Conway St. Joseph at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It will be a challenge and a tough matchup,” West said. “The players are hungry after getting that first win.”

Shirley 13 14 4 10–41
Heber Springs 18 10 19 8–55
Shirley scorers — Nash Little 17, Arrick Nowell 9, Hunter Bradford 8, Alex Eoff 5, Trey Mattison 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Ryan Crocker 11, Conner Riddle 8, Gus Hannah 8, Logan Monahan 6, J.T. Spears 5, Austin Winchester 5, Dakota Farmer 4, Zach Thomas 3, Bauer Pruitt 3, Harley Breshanan 2.  

Greenbrier tops Heber Springs in senior boys play

IMG_7391(1)
Heber Springs’ Ryan Crocker in action against Greenbrier. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs never got the offense rolling, scoring in single digits during each of the first three quarters, and lost to Greenbrier 65-28 in a nonconference boys’ high school basketball game at the Panther Den Thursday.

Greenbrier built a 13-2 first-quarter lead and went on a 25-7 scoring run during the second quarter and led 38-9 at halftime. Heber Springs trailed 52-16 going into the fourth quarter.

Wyatt Winchester scored six points for Heber Springs. Logan Monahan and Conner Riddle each had five points. Reece Jones led Greenbrier with 13 points and Marques Robinson contributed 10 points.

Heber Springs (0-3) is scheduled to play at Guy-Perkins on Monday and will host Shirley on Tuesday in nonconference games. Both games are set to start at 6 p.m.

Greenbrier 13 25 14 13–65
Heber Springs 2 7 7 12–28
Greenbrier scorers — Reece Jones 13, Marques Robinson 10, Bryce Webb 9, Jack Runsick 7, Jace Dunlap 7, Hayes Johnson 5, Dax Caughern 4, Nate Barrentine 3, Spencer Melton 3, Thomas Kendall 2, Gavin James 2.  
Heber Springs scorers — Wyatt Winchester 6, Logan Monahan 5, Conner Riddle 5, Bent McClain 3, J.T. Spears 3, Trevor Myrick 2, Ryan Crocker 2, Bauer Pruitt 2.

Heber Springs runs into Batesville buzzsaw

IMG_6003(1)
Heber Springs’ Conner Riddle drives along the baseline against Batesville Tuesday night at the Panther Den. Also pictured is Batesville’s (23) Kyrese Johnson. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs started a tough two-game stretch before Thanksgiving week with a 71-40 loss to Batesville in a nonconference basketball game at the Panther Den Tuesday.

Batesville built a 26-6 lead by the end of the first quarter and increased it to 45-20 by halftime. The Panthers trailed 67-29 going into the fourth quarter.

“You could tell that Batesville is a senior team,” Heber Springs coach Dusty West said. “They have played together for four years and were playing in mid-season form. Batesville made a lot of shots and has a great post in J.P. Morgan. We didn’t have an answer for him, but battled as best we could. Morgan’s physical strength and basketball skill were on a different level.”

Sophomore Conner Riddle, who just completed the football season, scored 10 points for the Panthers in his season debut. Bauer Pruitt, also a sophomore, added seven points.

Morgan led the Pioneers with a game-high 21 points. Caden Griffin had 11 points.

West, who assumed the head coach duties last week, took over Heber Springs program following the resignation of Scott Bramlett, hopes his players will follow Batesville’s example in the future. Thirteen of the Panthers’ 16 players are underclassmen.

“After the game, I told the guys that is the type of a team  we want to become,” West said. “We want to push the ball up and down the floor, pass the ball inside and throw it out to the perimeter and make 3-pointers.”

West said his team’s second-half performance illustrated what the future may hold.

“I was happy with our effort,” he said. “Despite trailing by double digits, we still were taking charges, hustling for loose balls and fighting for rebounds. “We played well during the second half and executed better.”

Heber Springs (0-2) will host nonconference rival Greenbrier on Thursday.

“The players were energetic and positive in the locker room after the game,” West said. “They are ready to get back on the floor against Greenbrier on Thursday. Greenbrier will test us, and we hope to show how much fight we have. I prefer playing these type of nonconference games, so we can become a better team and prepare for conference play.”

Heber Springs will play Guy-Perkins, Shirley, South Side Bee Branch, Conway St. Joseph, Riverview and Searcy before the start 4-4A Conference opener at Subiaco Academy on Dec. 11. The home conference opener will be against Ozark on Dec. 18.

The Panthers will play finish Cedar Ridge, Newport, Sheridan, Rose Bud and Clinton before resuming conference play at Morrilton on Jan. 5.

“I told the players not to get caught up with the number of wins and losses, but work to get better and hope it leads to winning conference games,” West said. “The nonconference schedule will benefit us in the long run.”

The Panthers gained six new players — Zach Thomas, Gus Hannah, Dakota Farmer, Riddle, Austin Winchester and Wyatt Winchester — following completion of the football season. West said those players are currently in transition and will become more involved in future games.

“We will be trying to establish our rotation and work with the football players on basketball conditioning,” West said. “You will see the team come more together as the season goes. We have a lot of room for growth. The players have potential.”

Batesville 26 19 22 4–71
Heber Springs 6 14 9 11–40
Batesville scorers — J.P. Morgan 21, Caden Griffin 11, Gunner Shell 8, K.J. Cross 6, John Morgan 6, Kyrese Johnson 6, Wes Lange 5, Logan McSpadden 4, Ben Hopper 2, Kolby Young 2.
Heber Springs scorers — Conner Riddle 10, Bauer Pruitt 7, Gus Hannah 5, Dakota Farmer 4, Zach Thomas 4, Harley Bresnahan 4, J.T. Spears 3, Joseph Ferris 2, Zach Stogsdill 1.  

Heber Springs comes up short against Clinton

Heber Springs’ Easton Cusick celebrates a second-quarter touchdown with teammate Conner Riddle. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

CLINTON — Time ran out on the Heber Springs Panthers to win their first Battle of the Little Red trophy at Jim Tumlison Field  Friday.

Quarterback Matthew Cook’s pass for Diego Rubio was batted away by Clinton defenders Spencer Banister and Harley Tobin at the goal-line as the Panthers lost to the Yellowjackets 32-26 in a 2-4A Conference football game.

Clinton’s Nick Epley scored the winning touchdown on a 52-yard run with 50 seconds left in the game.

Cook started Heber Springs’ final drive with a 14-yard completion to Easton Cusick for a first down at the Clinton 47-yard line., Parker Brown, who was playing his first high school game, caught a 16-yard pass, advancing the ball to the 31. A five-yard penalty against Clinton set up the game’s final play.

Heber Springs’ Matthew Cook. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“We were able to move down the field on the drive with different guys at receiver,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “We had a shot on the final play and that is all you can ask of your team. I told Matthew before the play to throw into the end zone.”

Brown was referring to Nathan McKee, the leading receiver for the Panthers, who was injured during the third quarter and unable to return.

Clinton forced a punt and drove 71 yards for the winning touchdown with 1:33 left in the game. Nick Epley caught a 13-yard pass from Harley Tobin for a first down at the Yellowjacket 45-yard line. Tobin kept the ball for three years before and threw an incomplete pass before Epley’s touchdown run on third-and-seven.

“We knew they could pass or run well,” Wood said. “Clinton has a good quarterback who can run or pass and a lot of speed in the backfield. It was a great call by them with less than a minute left. We were anticipating a pass. You have to make the tackle in that situation and we didn’t do it on that play.”

The teams played nose-to-nose during the first half with Clinton gaining one more yard (163-162) than Heber Springs. The Panthers rushed for 88 yards and passed for 74, while the Yellowjackets had 92 yards rushing and 71 passing.

For the game, Clinton outgained the Panthers 425-354 yards in total offense and held a 23-18 advantage in first downs. Heber Springs rushed for 201 yards and passed for 153. The Yellowjackets had 277 yards on the ground and 148 passing.

Heber Springs’ Diego Rubio looks to get past Clinton’s Cody Davis. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs converted 1-of-10 opportunities on third down and 4-of-6 on fourth down. Clinton was 6-of-10 on third down and 1-of-2 on fourth down.

Cook completed 15-of-32 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown, and rushed 17 times for 167 yards and one touchdown. He accounted for 320 all-purpose yards. Rubio had 28 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns. McKee caught eight passes for 91 yards. Cusick had three catches for 39 yards and one touchdown. Parker Brown caught two passes for 18 yards.

Tobin completed 8-of-15 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown for Clinton. Epley rushed 18 times for 149 yards and one touchdown.

Clinton received the opening kickoff and marched 59 yards on seven plays for the early lead. Jacob Hutto capped the drive by scoring on a 5-yard run with 9:06 in the first quarter. Aldrick Infante kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.

Heber Springs tied the game on a 10-play, 57-yard drive in the second quarter. Cook’s 30-yard carry put the Panthers in scoring position at the Clinton 15-yard line.

The Panthers needed a fourth-down conversion to keep the drive alive. McKee caught a 7-yard pass from Cook for a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Two plays later, Rubio dove into the end zone from one yard out with 8:43 left in the first half. Gus Hannah kicked the extra point for the 7-7 tie.

Clinton regained the advantage on its next possession when Infante kicked a 32-yard field goal with 4:07 to go for a 10-7 lead.

But the Panthers didn’t wait long to respond. Heber Springs drove 62 yards on 10 plays, with Cook connecting on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Cusick. Hannah kicked the extra point for the 14-10 lead with 38 seconds remaining until halftime.

Clinton pulled to within one point on Infante’s 40-yard field game with two seconds left as Heber Springs led 14-13 at halftime.

Heber Springs started the second half at its 48 thanks to McKee’s kickoff return. Cook passed twice to McKee for a first-and-goal at the 4. Two plays later, Rubio scored from the 1, increasing the lead to 20-13. The 2-point conversion was no good.

Clinton pulled to within one point before the end of the third quarter. Tobin capped a six-play, 35-yard drive by scoring on a 1-yard sneak. The Panthers kept their 20-19 lead on Clinton’s bad snap on the try for the extra point.

Heber Springs increased its lead when Thad Bray recovered a Clinton fumble at the Panther 10-yard line. The Yellowjackets held on the next three plays as the Panthers faced a fourth-and-eight at the 12.

A fourth-down conversion helped Heber Springs to increase its lead. The Panthers elected to go for the first down. Cook took the snap, went to his left and broke to the outside. He outran the Yellowjacket defense and scored on an 88-yard run with 7:16 left in the game. After a failed 2-point play, the Panthers led, 26-19.

“We had two choices,” Wood said. “We could keep moving the ball down the field or give it back Clinton on a short field where it probably would score quickly. It was not a tough decision.”

Clinton tied the game when Brody Emberton caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Tobin with 3:48 left. Infante kicked the extra point to tie the game at 26-26.

Epley scored the winning touchdown with 50 seconds left, and Clinton held the Panthers out of the end zone on the game’s final series.

Heber Springs (1-5 conference, 2-7 overall) will host Little Rock Mills in the final regular season game on Friday.

“Mills will be big and physical,” Wood said. “The game will show how much character that we have. We have to come back with our heads high and finish the regular season strong.” 

Heber Springs’ Gus Hannah gets the PAT kick off despite the attempt by Clinton’s Nick Epley (3) to block the kick. Matthew Cook (33) was the holder on the attempt. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

GAME STATS

SCORING   
Heber Springs (1-5, 2-7)   0 14  6  6 - 26
Clinton (2-4, 2-7)         7  6  6 13 - 32
FIRST QUARTER   
Clinton, Jacob Hutto 5-yard run (Aldrick Infante kick), 9:06
SECOND QUARTER
Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 1-yard run (Gus Hannah kick), 8:43
Clinton, Infante 32-yard field goal, 4:07
Heber Springs, Matthew Cook to Easton Cusick 20-yard pass (Hannah kick), :38
Clinton, Infante 40-yard field goal, :02
THIRD QUARTER   
Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 1-yard run (pass failed), 10:24
Clinton, Harley Tobin 1-yard run (run failed), :02
FOURTH QUARTER 
Heber Springs, Cook 88-yard run (run failed), 5:30
Clinton, Tobin to Brody Emberton 21-yard pass (Infante kick), 3:48
Clinton, Nick Epley 52-yard run (kick failed), :50

TEAM STATS   
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 8, Clinton 14
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 8, Clinton 8
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 2, Clinton 1
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 18, Clinton 23
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/10, Clinton 6/10
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 4/6, Clinton 1/2
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 5/3, Southside 1/0
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 22:02, Clinton 25:58
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 2/1, Clinton 2/2
Turnovers: Heber Springs 1, Clinton 2     
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 6, Clinton 0
Penalties: Heber Springs 4/40, Clinton 4/41
Rushing: Heber Springs 27/201/7.4, Clinton 47/277/5.9
Passing: Heber Springs 15/32-153-1/0, Clinton 8/15-148-1/0
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 59/354/6, Clinton 62/425/6.9 
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Clinton 2/11
Punts: Heber Springs 2/60, Clinton 1/34
Inside 20: None

INDIVIDUAL STATS   
OFFENSE     
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 17/167/1, Diego Rubio 9/28/2, Nathan McKee 1/6. Clinton, Nick Epley 18/149/1, Jacob Hutto 15/64/1, Brody Emberton 4/33, Harley Tobin 10/29/1, Cody Davis 1/2.
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 15/32-153-1/0. Clinton, Harley Tobin 8/15-148-1/0.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 8/91, Easton Cusick 3/39, Parker Brown 2/18, Jackson West 1/3, Diego Rubio 1/2. Clinton, Brody Emberton 3/65/1, Nick Epley 3/43, Jasper Burgess 1/28, Blaine Emberton 1/12.
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 320, Diego Rubio 28, Nathan McKee 6. Clinton, Harley Tobin 182, Nick Epley 149, Jacob Hutto 64, Brody Emberton 33, Cody Davis 2.
PUNT RETURNS: Clinton, Jacob Hutto 1/4
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 2/33, Nathan McKee 1/38, Parker Brown 1/4, Gus Hannah 1/0, Austin Winchester 1/0. Clinton, Cody Davis 2/31, Nick Epley 2/21, Brody Emberton 1/11.
FUMBLE RETURNS: None
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: None
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 167, Nathan McKee 135, Diego Rubio 53, Easton Cusick 39, Parker Brown 22, Jackson West 3. Clinton, Nick Epley 213, Brody Emberton 109, Jacob Hutto 68, Cody Davis 33, Jasper Burgess 28, Blaine Emberton 12.
SCORING: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 12, Matthew Cook 6, Easton Cusick 6, Gus Hannah 2 (2/2 XPA). Clinton, Aldrick Infante 8 (2/3 XPA, 2/2 FGA. Made: 32, 40), Nick Epley 6, Jacob Hutto 6, Harley Tobin 6, Brody Emberton 6.
DEFENSE    
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20/BLOCKED: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook  2/60/30/0/0. Clinton, Aldrick Infante 1/34/34/0/0
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Clinton, Jasper Burgess 1/8, Josh Witt 1/6
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Heber Springs, Isaac King, Thad Bray. Clinton, Ashton Hoyle.
INTERCEPTIONS: None

Panthers battle, fall to Jackrabbits

Heber Springs’ Nathan McKee returns the opening kickoff against Lonoke Friday. McKee finished with 207 all-purpose yards in the Panthers 47-31 setback at Lonoke. Also pictured, Heber Springs’s Conner Riddle (6) and Gus Hannah (7) and Lonoke’s Drake Aycock (15). PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

LONOKE — Heber Springs lost to Lonoke in the 2-4A Conference football opener 47-31 Friday, but the Panthers earned the respect of head coach Todd Wood for their reaction to adversity in the second half.

Heber Springs (0-1 conference, 1-3 overall) led 6-0, 12-7 and 19-14 before the Lonoke (1-0 conference, 3-1 overall) finished the second quarter by scoring three consecutive touchdowns for a 35-19 halftime lead. The Jackrabbits maintained a two-score advantage throughout the second half.

“We are never going to give up,” Wood said. “I told the players after the game they made me proud of how they played late in the game. We had a few letdowns, but we picked it up at times and played aggressively. We played with a lot of fire in the fourth quarter. We need to play that way for the entire game.”

Heber Springs’ Matthew Cook. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs reached the 300-yard passing mark for the second straight game. Matthew Cook completed 23-of-42 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions. Hunter Kent connected on 2-of-3 passes for 66 yards and one touchdown.

Nathan McKee led the receivers with eight receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have been working on the new plays for three weeks,” Wood said. “We got an opportunity to show what we could do with the new plays. But the fun part is we didn’t show everything.”

Lonoke freshman Bradon Allen started at quarterback in place of Spence Pepper. Allen rushed 23 times for 74 yards and scored three touchdowns. He completed 6-of-19 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown.

Ja’coree Womack led the Jackrabbits’ running game with 20 carries for 115 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Wood said the defense had some good moments.

“We received a boost with the return of Preston Roberson at defensive end,” he said. “(Kenan) Sneed made good plays. Jackson West did a fantastic job of getting into Lonoke’s backfield and made things happen.”

Heber Springs received the opening kickoff and scored on the game’s second play from scrimmage. Cook lateraled to Kent, who suddenly stopped and connected on a 56-yard touchdown pass to Isaac King for a 6-0 lead with 11:17 left in the first quarter.

Lonoke earned its first lead after Deon Campbell’s interception set up a first down at the Heber Springs 43. The Panthers forced the Jackrabbits later into a fourth-and-one at the 18. Womack broke free and scored with 6:31 left in the first quarter. Tom Boatright kicked the extra point, giving a 7-6 lead to Lonoke.

Heber Springs regained the advantage on Kent’s 2-yard touchdown carry, which capped an 8-play, 60-yard drive, for the 12-7 with 3:27 to go in the quarter.

Lonoke converted a fumble recovery at the Panther 38 yard-line into its next score, Allen’s 22-yard run. Boatright’s successful kick returned the lead to Lonoke, 14-12, with 11:44 left in the first half.

Heber Springs struck back quickly, taking the lead three plays later. McKee caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Cook. Gus Hannah kicked the extra point for a 19-14 lead with 10:02 remaining in the first half.

“The game went back and forth early,” Wood said. “We got the lead, then lost the lead, and we got the lead back.”

Lonoke seized momentum by scoring three touchdowns before halftime, two after fourth-down stops and a pick six before halftime.

Womack scored on a 22-yard run with 7:21 left, and Anthony Parks ran for the 2-point conversion. Parks returned an interception 100 yards for a score, and Boatwright kicked the extra point. Allen’s 5-yard run finished the scoring flurry as Lonoke held a 35-19 halftime lead.

“Two of the touchdowns was because of our tackling,” Wood said. “We had a letdown during the final three minutes because of frustration and fatigue. I challenged them at halftime that we would come back and overcome those things.”

Lonoke took a 41-19 lead midway through the third quarter on Allen’s 35-yard pass to Chaston Dockery. The Panthers scored before the end of the quarter on Cook’s 32-yard pass to Diego Rubio.

Heber Springs trailed 41-25 going into the fourth quarter.

Each team scored a touchdown during the final quarter. Allen had a 2-yard scoring carry with 11:51 left for Lonoke. McKee caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Cook for the Panthers.

HIGH SCORING GAMES

Friday night's game between Lonoke and Heber Springs produced the third most combined points in the series between the two schools.
2011 - 109 (Heber Springs 63, Lonoke 46)
2013 - 97 (Lonoke 63, Heber Springs 34)
2020 - 78 (Lonoke 47, Heber Springs 31)
1992 - 77 (Lonoke 49, Heber Springs 28)
2016 - 69 (Heber Springs 48, Lonoke 21)
2008 - 68 (Lonoke 47, Heber Springs 21)
2014 - 64 (Heber Springs 40, Lonoke 24)
2017 - 63 (Heber Springs 41, Lonoke 22)
1942 - 56 (Lonoke 53, Heber Springs 3)
2007 - 53 (Lonoke 35, Heber Springs 18)
Heber Springs’ Chris Benton. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

GAME STATS

SCORING   
Heber Springs (1-3, 0-1)          12   7  6  6 - 31 
Lonoke (3-1, 1-0)                  7  28  6  6 - 47 
FIRST QUARTER   
Heber Springs, Hunter Kent to Isaac King 56-yard pass (run failed), 11:17
Lonoke, Ja'coree Womack 18-yard run (Tom Boatright kick), 6:31
Heber Springs, Matthew Cook to Kent 1-yard pass (run failed), 3:27 
SECOND QUARTER   
Lonoke, Bradon Allen 22-yard run (Boatright kick), 11:44
Heber Springs, Cook to Nathan McKee 44-yard pass (Gus Hannah kick), 10:02
Lonoke, Womack 23-yard run (Anthony Parks run), 7:21
Lonoke, Parks 100-yard interception return (Boatright kick), 4:33
Lonoke, Allen 3-yard run (run failed), :32
THIRD QUARTER   
Lonoke, Allen to Chaston Dockery 35-yard pass (run failed), 7:58
Heber Springs, Cook to Diego Rubio 32-yard pass (pass failed), 1:58
FOURTH QUARTER 
Lonoke, Allen 2-yard run (kick failed), 11:51
Heber Springs, Cook to McKee 52-yard pass (pass failed), 6:07

TEAM STATS   
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 5, Lonoke 9 
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 10, Lonoke 5  
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Lonoke 2 
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 15, Lonoke 16 
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 1/12, Lonoke 3/13
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/6, Lonoke 3/7 
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 1/2, Lonoke 3/3
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 22:06, Lonoke 25:54
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 4/3, Lonoke 4/2
Turnovers: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 2       
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 21  
Penalties: Heber Springs 5/42, Lonoke 6/42  
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 66/377/5.7, Lonoke 69/340/4.9
Rushing: Heber Springs 24/18/.8, Lonoke 50/211/4.2
Passing: Heber Springs 23/42-359-5/3, Lonoke 6/19-129-1/0
Sacked/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 3/24, Lonoke 1/11  
Punts: Heber Springs 2/63/31.5, Lonoke 3/82/27.3
Inside 20: Heber Springs 0, Lonoke 0

INDIVIDUAL STATS   
OFFENSE     
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 3/27, Nathan McKee 1/23, Diego Rubio 3/10, Isaac King 1/8, Matthew Cook 15/(-14), Team 1/(-36). Lonoke, Ja'coree Womack 20/115, Bradon Allen 23/74, Anthony Parks 3/27, Latrell Burnett 1/2, Landon Jones 3/(-2), Team 1/(-5).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 21/39-293-4/3, Hunter Kent 2/3-66-1/0. Lonoke, Bradon Allen 6/19-129-1/0
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 8/162, Hunter Kent 5/67, Isaac King 4/73, Diego Rubio 3/39, Matthew Cook 1/10, Gus Hannah 1/8, Kenan Sneed 1/(-1). Lonoke, Landon Jones 3/63, Chaston Dockery 1/35, Anthony Parks 1/23, Ja'coree Womack 1/8.   
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 279, Hunter Kent 93, Nathan McKee 23, Diego Rubio 10, Isaac King 8. Lonoke, Bradon Allen 203, Ja'coree Womack 115, Anthony Parks 27, Latrell Burnett 2, Landon Jones (-2).
PUNT RETURNS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 1/17  
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 3/30, Nathan McKee 2/22, Hunter Kent 1/34, Kenan Sneed 1/9. Lonoke, Romel Rankin 2/22, Latrell Burnett 1/7, Deon Campbell 1/0, Cody Amato 1/0.
FUMBLE RETURNS: None   
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Lonoke, Anthony Parks 1/100, Deon Campbell 1/34 
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 207, Hunter Kent 145, Isaac King 81, Diego Rubio 79, Gus Hannah 8, Kenan Sneed 8, Matthew Cook (-4). Lonoke, Anthony Parks 150, Ja'coree Womack 123, Bradon Allen 74, Landon Jones 61, Chaston Dockery 35, Deon Campbell 34, Romel Rankin 22, Latrell Burnett 9
SCORING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 12, Diego Rubio 6, Isaac King 6, Hunter Kent 6, Gus Hannah 1 (1/1 XPA). Lonoke, Bradon Allen 18, Ja'coree Womack 12, Anthony Parks 8, Chaston Dockery 6, Tom Boatright 3 (3/4 XPA)
DEFENSE    
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 2/63/31.5. Lonoke, Ayden Rowton 3/82/27.3
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook .5/11, Hunter Kent .5/11. Lonoke, Latrell Burnett 1/9, Dalynn Waits 1/8, Seth Sherman 1/7.
Fumble Recoveries: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook, Chris Smith. Lonoke, Tayler Coffey, team 2.
Interceptions: Lonoke, Anthony Parks, Deon Campbell, Chaston Dockery.