Different week, same result for Panthers

Heber Springs’ Hunter Kent looks upfield against Harding Academy Friday night in Searcy. Easton Cusick (4) and Chris Smith (54) look to provide blocking help for Kent. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


For the second week in a row, Heber Springs trailed at the half, 45-0, and ended up falling, 45-6.

This time it was at top-ranked and defending 3A state champion Harding Academy Friday night.

Like in week 1, turnovers cost the Panthers early leading to a short field for the opponent. Heber Springs (0-2) fumbled twice and had pass attempts intercepted as Harding Academy (2-0) had eight first-half possessions with seven of those inside the Panther 50 and six inside the Panther the Panther 38.

“Same story second week in a row,” first-year Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “(When) you play a good team, you can’t give opportunities to a good team because they are going to take benefit from it.

“So that’s the second week in a row you give the ball over real quick in the game, you can’t do that against teams that are going to take full advantage of it immediately.”

The Panthers turned the ball over on their first three possessions and trailed 21-0 with 3:17 left in the first quarter.

“We are going to have to start learning how to secure the ball a little bit better and start getting our offense to move the ball down the field a little bit,” Wood said of the turnovers. “But we’ll work on it.”

Heber Springs’ receiver Easton Cusick braces for the hit from a Harding Academy defender. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Panthers had their best drive of the first half on their next possession moving from their own 20 to the Wildcat 26 before the drive stalled on fourth down with 34 seconds left in the opening quarter. An 18-yard run by Matthew Cook, a 7-yard run on fourth down by Hunter Kent and an 18-yard pass play as John McBroome connected with Easton Cusick highlighted the Heber Springs drive.

“I have said this multiple times we didn’t have spring ball,” Wood said. “We didn’t have summer ball so these first three weeks are our spring ball and we are still trying to figure out our identity.

“We are still trying to figure out who is going to play where,”

The last time a Panther football team has been shutout was on Oct. 18, 2013, in a 35-0 setback at Newport — a streak of 73 consecutive games with at least a touchdown, and that streak was extended in the second half on the Panthers first possession.

With a continuous running clock because of the Arkansas Activities Association Sportsmanship Rule, Heber Springs forced the Wildcats to a three-and-out on defense before taking over at the Wildcat 46 with 9:01 to play in the third quarter.

Heber Springs quarterback Conner Riddle looks downfield as senior Diego Rubio provides blocking. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Sophomore quarterback Conner Riddle led the Panthers on a 10-play drive that senior running back Diego Rubio capped off with a 1-yard run with 2:32 left in the quarter. The 2-point attempt failed. Sophomore running back Kenan Sneed carried twice for 14 yards on the drive while sophomore transfer receiver Isaac King had three receptions for 29 yards.

“We’ve got some things to correct,” Wood said. “We’ve got some guys that are going to have to step up to play some positions that they need to be ready to play. We are getting ready to make some changes.”

Heber Springs, which has lost eight consecutive regular season nonconference contests, hosts Dover and former interim Panther coach Will Cox Friday night at Panther Stadium in the final nonconference contest for the Panthers.

“I told them we are playing for week 4,” Wood said, “that’s what gets us into November and December, and so that’s what we are trying to do is get into week 4 make sure everything’s place and all the little mistakes are taken care of so in week 4 we are ready to play some real football. “


Heber Springs (0-2)     0   0  6  0 -   6
Harding Academy (2-0)  21  24  0  0 -  45 
Harding Academy - Andrew Miller 25-yard run (Kyle Ferrie kick), 8:37
Harding Academy - Miller 5-yard run (Ferrie kick), 6:06
Harding Academy - Caden Sipe to Ty Dugger 5-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 3:17
Harding Academy - Sipe to Landon Koch 28-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 10:47
Harding Academy - Sipe to Miller 33-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 9:41
Harding Academy - Ferrie 44-yard field goal, 5:53
Harding Academy - Miller 4-yard run (Ferrie kick), 4:16
Heber Springs - Diego Rubio 1-yard run (pass field), 2:32
First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 4, Harding Academy 8 
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 3, Harding Academy 7 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 1, Harding Academy 0
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 8, Harding Academy 15
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/3, Harding Academy 1/2  
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/3, Harding Academy 1/2
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 1/1, Harding Academy 3/3  
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 26:29, Harding Academy 21:31
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 5/2, Harding Academy 2/0 
Turnovers: Heber Springs 4, Harding Academy 0     
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Harding Academy 28 
Penalties: Heber Springs 4/25, Harding Academy 1/5 
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 56/189/3.4, Harding Academy 44/259/5.9
Rushing: Heber Springs 28/98/3.5, Harding Academy 25/115/4.6
Passing: Heber Springs 15/28-91-0/2, Harding Academy 10/19-154-3/0
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Harding Academy 0/0
Punts: Heber Springs 3/61/20.3, Harding Academy 2/57/28.5
Inside 20: Heber Springs 0, Harding Academy 1

RUSHING: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 8/32/4, Matthew Cook 5/31/6.2, Hunter Kent 3/14/4.7, Kenan Sneed 2/14, Jackson West 4/12/3, Conner Riddle 3/2/.6, Easton Cusick 2/0, Team 1/(-7). Harding Academy, Andrew Miller 11/90/8.2, Caden Sipe 3/26/8.6, Seth Campbell 6/11, Colson Sipe 0/8, Aaron Chism 2/6, Carter Neal 1/2, Team 1/(-28). 
RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio (1). Harding Academy, Andrew Miller (1). 
RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook (1), Kenan Sneed (1). Harding Academy, Andrew Miller (3), Caden Sipe (1).
PASSING: Heber Springs, John McBroome 9/18-44-0/2, Conner Riddle 6/8-47-0/0, Matthew Cook 0/2-0-0/0. Harding Academy, Caden Sipe 6/11-116-3/0, Carter Neal 4/8-38-0/0.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Isaac King 6/47, Easton Cusick 6/34, Hunter Kent 2/11, Matthew Cook 1/(-1). Harding Academy, Jackson Fox 3/27, Landon Koch 2/40, Ryan McGaha 2/30, Ty Dugger 2/14, Andrew Miller 1/33.  
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Conner Riddle 49, John McBroome 44, Diego Rubio 32, Matthew Cook 31, Hunter Kent 14, Kenan Sneed 14, Jackson West 12, Easton Cusick 0, Team (-7). Harding Academy, Caden Sipe 142, Andrew Miller 90, Carter Neal 40, Seth Campbell 11, Colson Sipe 8, Aaron Chism 6, Team (-28).   
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 2/24. Harding Academy, Jackson Fox 1/16. 
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Harding Academy, Kade Smith 1/17, Aaron Chism 1/2.
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 49, Isaac King 47, Easton Cusick 34, Diego Rubio 32, Matthew Cook 30, Kenan Sneed 14, Jackson West 12, Conner Riddle 2. Harding Academy, Aaron Miller 123,  Jackson Fox 43, Landon Koch 40, Ryan McGaha 30, Caden Sipe 26, Kade Smith 17, Ty Dugger 14, Seth Campbell 11, Colson Sipe 8, Aaron Chism 8, Carter Neal 2.
SCORING: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 6. Harding Academy, Andrew Miller 24, Kyle Ferrie 9 (1-1 44 FG, 6-6 XP/XPA), Landon Koch 6, Ty Dugger 6. 
INTERCEPTIONS: Harding Academy, Aaron Chism, Kade Smith. 
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Harding Academy, Eli Wallace, Cooper Welch. 
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 2/33/16.5, Wyatt Winchester 1/28. Harding Academy, Kyle Ferrie 2/57/28.5/1 

Panthers open junior high season with convincing win

Heber Springs’ Parker Brown fights for extra yards against Harding Academy Thursday night at Panther Stadium. Heber Springs’ Gideon Tate (1) and Xander Lindley (9) are also pictured. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Heber Springs took advantage of four Harding Academy turnovers and cruised to a 23-6 win over Harding Academy in junior high football action at Panther Stadium Thursday night.

Heber Springs junior high coach James Ortiz was concerned about Harding Academy after the Panthers “week zero” game at Clinton was canceled because of the remnants of Hurricane Laura.

“We didn’t have a game one like a lot of others did, I know other schools are in the same boat, but I can’t worry about them,” he said. “I worry about me. So that was one thing that I kind of worried about is that we didn’t have something to prepare us for Harding as much as I wanted us to.”

His worries were put to ease by ease by eighth-grader Liam Buffalo, who was 17 of 33 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns, and ninth-grader Parker Brown, who had three receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown and also picked off two Wildcat passes — including returning one 46 yards for a score.

“He’s unbelievable,” Ortiz said of Brown who moved back into the district after spending the last two seasons in Texas. “He’s just an athlete. He has great hands, great feet. He can run and he’s a great kid. We are fortunate to have him. He definitely makes our team better.”

Heber Springs quarterback Liam Buffalo. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Buffalo had a slow start, completing only three of his first 10 passes for 20 yards, as the game remained scoreless until late in the first quarter when Brown picked off the Miller Owen pass attempt and returned it for a score. Xander Lindley ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 8-0 in favor of Heber Springs with 2:13 to play. 

The Heber Springs defense held Harding Academy to 113 total yards of offense — with 52 of those coming on one pass play- and three first downs, and it was after a defensive stop that Buffalo found his rhythm completing three passes for 75 yards — including a 33-yarder to Hud Haggard and a 35-yard scoring strike to Brown — to make the score 14-0 in favor of the Panthers with 7:12 left in the first half.

“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Ortiz said of Buffalo. “I could be nit picky about one or two things … but overall I can’t ask for anything else for my quarterback.”

The Wildcats got on the board on their next possession as Owen connected with Kyler Hoover for a 52-yard scoring strike to make it 14-6 with 5:02 left in the first half. The 2-point conversion failed.

The score remained that way until the Panthers first possession of the second half. After Brown picked off an Owen pass attempt in the end zone, Heber Springs marched 72 yards on 12 plays before the 5:57 drive stalled at the Wildcat 8 on fourth down. Freshman Gideon Tate connected on the 25-yard field goal attempt to make it 17-6 in favor of the Panthers with 7:11 left in the contest.

Heber Springs added another score less than three minutes later. Haggard recovered a Wildcat fumble on the Harding Academy 19 and three plays later Buffalo connected with Haggard for the 4-yard touchdown to make it 23-6. The PAT was no good.

Haggard finished the night with six receptions for 65 yards for Heber Springs while Dalton Yancey (for 23 yards), Lindley (for 21 yards) and Ty West (for 3 yards) each had a pair of receptions.

The Panther defense limited Harding Academy to 21 yards rushing on 16 attempts. Heber Springs which finished with 279 yards of total offense and 14 first downs.

Heber Springs will look to improve to 2-0 on the season Thursday when they travel to Dover for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Heber Springs‘ Hud Haggard looks to get past Harding Academy’s Jack Citty Thursday night. Haggard went 33-yards on the pass play to help set up a Panther score. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Panther 7th-Graders fall in opener

Heber Springs’ Dyce Young (56) breaks off a long run against Harding Academy Thursday night in seventh-grade football action. Heber Springs’ Grady Turley (24) and Emmett Dwyer (34) and Harding Academy’s Catcher Smith (2) and Cam Pryor (19) also pictured. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


The Heber Springs Panthers dropped a 22-14 decision to Harding Academy on Thursday in the season opener for the seventh-grade squad at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs (0-1) led 14-6 after Seth Dudeck returned a Wildcat fumble 26 yards for touchdown with 12:42 to play in the contest, but Harding Academy scored 16 straight to pull out the win.

The Panthers struck first as Jacob Haskett scored on a 10-yard run with 11:29 to play in the first half. Dyce Young plunged over for the 2-point conversion and Heber Springs led 8-0.

Harding Academy answered at the 6:53 mark of the first stanza with a 53-yard run by quarterback Cam Pryor to make it 8-6, after the Panthers stopped the 2-point conversion.

Heber Springs’ Jacob Haskett attempts to avoid the tackle of Harding Academy’s Cam Pryor in seventh-grade football action Thursday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs moved the ball deep into Wildcat territory late in the first half as a 22-yard run by Young and a 41-yard pass play as Emmett Dwyer connected with Cooper Holmes, but the drive ended when Harding Academy’s Jack Roberts intercepted the Panthers pass attempt at the Wildcat 8 with 37 seconds left in the half.

Heber Springs’ first drive of the second half also got deep into Wildcat territory after a 28-yard run by Haskett and an 18-yard reception by Holmes, but another interception stopped the drive. A couple plays later, Dudeck picked up the loose Wildcat football and rushed in for what would be the Panthers final score.

Harding Academy would tie the game with 8:01 left to play on an 83-yard run by Roberts and the 2-point run by Pryor. 

The Wildcats would score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:55 to play on a 36-yard run by Pryor. Roberts added the 2-point run to set the final score. 

Heber Springs will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Dover.

Heber Springs’ Emmett Dwyer looks upfield against Harding Academy Thursday night at Panther Stadium. Heber Springs’ Gavin Widner (6) and Harding Academy’s Josiah Swindle (70), also pictured. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Game Stats: Harding Academy at Heber Springs Junior High

Junior High Football
September 10, 2020
at Panther Stadium

Harding Academy   0   6   0   0 -  6
Heber Springs     8   6   3   6 - 23

Heber Springs, Parker Brown 46-yard interception return (Xander Lindley 2-point run), 2:13
Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo to Brown 35-yard pass (pass failed), 7:12 
Harding Academy, Owen Miller to Kyler Hoover 52-yard pass (pass failed), 5:02
Heber Springs, Gideon Tate 25-yard field goal, 7:11
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Hud Haggard 4-yard pass (kick failed), 5:04

First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 3, Harding Academy 1
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 11, Harding Academy 1
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Harding Academy 1
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 14, Harding Academy 3
Penalties: Heber Springs 6/61, Harding Academy 5/33
3rd-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/9, Harding Academy 0/6
4th-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/4, Harding Academy 1/2
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 3/0, Harding Academy 2/1
Sacked/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 0/0, Harding Academy 1/10
Total Offense: Heber Springs 279, Harding Academy 113
Rush/Yards/Avg: Heber Springs 15/49/3.3, Harding Academy 12/21/1.7
Passing (A/C-Yards-TD/Int): Heber Springs 17/33-230-2/0, Harding Academy 8/17-92-1/3
Punts: Heber Springs 2/43/21.5, Harding Academy 1/42
Rushing: Heber Springs, Hayden Johnson 4/21, Hud Haggard 1/9, Gideon Tate 3/9, Xander Lindley 1/7, Parker Brown 1/6, Liam Buffalo 3/4, Team 2/(-11). Harding Academy, Kyler Hoover 5/28, Owen Miller 6/(-6), Jack Citty 1/(-1).
Passing: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 17/33-230-2/0. Harding Academy, Owen Miller 8/17-92-1/3.
Receiving: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 6/65, Parker Brown 3/83, Dalton Yancey 3/30, Xander Lindley 2/21, Ty West 2/3, Chris Roberts 1/28. Harding Academy, Kyler Hoover 4/65, Endy McGalliard 3/21, Jack Citty 1/6.
Kickoff Returns: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 1/0, Xander Lindley 1/0. Harding Academy, Kyler Hoover 2/37, Jack Citty 2/35, Kohl Griffin 1/(-2).
Interceptions: Heber Springs, Parker Brown 2/46, Liam Buffalo 1/0
Total Offense: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 234, Hayden Johnson 21, Hud Haggard 9, Gideon Tate 9, Xander Lindley 7, Parker Brown 6. Harding Academy, Owen Miller 86, Kyler Hoover 28, Jack Citty (-1).
All-Purpose Yards: Heber Springs, Parker Brown 135, Hud Haggard 74, Dalton Yancey 30, Xander Lindley 28, Chris Roberts 28, Hayden Johnson 21, Gideon Tate 9, Ty West 3. Harding Academy, Kyler Hoover 130, Jack Citty 40, Endy McGalliard 21, Kohl Griffin (-2), Owen Miller (-6)
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Chris Roberts 1/10.
PUNTS: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 2/43/21.5. Harding Academy, Owen Miller 1/42.
KICKING: Heber Springs, Gideon Tate (0/1 XP, FG: Made - 25)


Heber Springs starts season 2-0

Heber Springs’ Cristina Garcia fights for the ball with the Southside Batesville goalie. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 5, 2020

Lyon College signee Taylor Hammons finished with a hat trick as Heber Springs improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 6-nil victory over Southside Batesville at Panther Stadium.

Hammons scored all of her goals in the first half, as Heber Springs built up a 6-nil lead at the break and cruised to a mercy-rule win, which included a shortened second-half clock.

“I didn’t even notice it a first,” Heber Springs coach Drew Lawrence said. “I went ‘wow, Taylor’s got three.’ She’s the type that you give her the ball around the net and it will usually find a way.”

Heber Springs senior Jillian Herring looks to go on the offensive against the Southerners. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

The Panthers stayed on the offensive throughout most of the contest with McKenzie Beccera, Jillian Herring and Abbi Dew all adding goals. While Becerra assisted on two goals and Selena Childress on another.

“McKenzie had two assists … and half of those were assisted,” Lawrence said. “It’s really good that we scored six goals but to have at least half of that were assisted, that’s really big. We not only have girls that can go out there and get goals on their own like Jillian and Libby did tonight, but we are also able to use the team and score that way as well.”

Heber Springs opened it’s season with a 4-1 victory over 5A Vilonia on Tuesday.

“That’s really big,” Lawrence said of the win. “I know Vilonia beat us 4-0 last year. They are a bigger school and we are a newer soccer program, so to go on the road, it was nice to really put it on them. We got big contributions from everyone involved. “

Stutts finished with two goals against Vilonia while Hammons and Herring each put one in the back of the net.

Those three seniors are among a core group that are poised for a big season.

Heber Springs senior Abbi Dew gets a kick off against Southside Batesville. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“It really helps that nine out of our 11 starters are seniors,” Lawrence said. “It makes us really excited for this year.”

With 31 players out for the team, Lawrence is also excited about the future of the program.

“Most people would get kind off worried for the next couple of years,” he said, “but I think are first five off our bench are freshmen or sophomores. We are really excited about this year, not only because the strong senior group, but because we arealso going to keep working in those freshmen, keep on working in those sophomores, and keep on building this program.”

Heber Springs also picked up an Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) Benefit Match win on February 24 at Panther Stadium with a 5-3 decision over Harding Academy.

The Panthers led 5-nil at the break and played back-ups the second half.

Benefit matches played before the first official start date by the AAA for soccer of March 2 do not count in the official record.

February 24  Heber Springs 5, Harding Academy 3 $
March 3      Heber Springs 4, Vilonia 1
March 5      Heber Springs 6, Southside Batesville 0
March 9      at Morrilton               7 p.m.
March 10     Conway St. Joseph          7 p.m.
March 13     Greenbrier                 7 p.m.
March 19     at Cave City               7 p.m.
March 31     at Mountain View           7 p.m.
April 2      at Wynne *                 7 p.m.
April 6      Jonesboro Westside *       7 p.m.
April 9      at Brookland *             7 p.m.
April 13     Valley View *              7 p.m.
April 18     Southside Batesville Tournament
April 20     at Southside Batesville *  7 p.m.
April 23     at Lonoke *                7 p.m.
April 28     Batesville *               7 p.m.

(* - Denotes 4A-North conference contest.)
($ - Denotes Arkansas Activities Association Benefit Match. The match does not count on the official record.)

Heber Springs tops Southside, travels to Morrilton

Heber Springs’ Luke Greenwald looks to go on the attack against Southside Batesville in soccer action at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

March 5, 2020

Heber Springs held off a spirited Southside Batesville to claim a 2-nil victory on Thursday at Panther Stadium.

The win improved Heber Springs to 2-1 on the young season.

“Tough playing against that bunch,” Heber Springs coach Jay Bishop said. “They always play incredibly hard. They get fired up to play Heber Springs and so do we in playing them.

“They defend really well, really hard. We had a lot of chances to score, but unfortunately only two of them fell for us, but that’s two more than they got. “

Heber Springs got a first half goal from junior Landon Barbee to lead at the break, before getting a late goal from senior Jackson Harrod on a free kick to set the margin.

The Southerners (0-1-1) played more of preventive defensive match allowing most of the action take place on their end, keeping a majority of the players back on defense which made shots on goal difficult but kept the offensive threats at a minimum.

“It very much is a prevent style,” Bishop said. “(They are looking to ) draw you or beat you in a shootout. Scoring two goals against this bunch is difficult. It’s hard to score one with the way they play and the way they defend.

“I am proud of them (my team). I told them at the end of the game, would have liked to have had a bigger margin of victory but ultimately a win is a win. When you go to bed tonight, you go to bed a winner.”

Though Southside Batesville is a conference foe, this match was scheduled as a nonconference contest.

On Tuesday, Heber Springs traveled to 5A Vilonia and came way with a 6-1 victory.

The Panthers got two goals from Julio Rubio and single goals from Diego Rubio, Gus Hannah, Jackson Harrod and Luke Greenwald against the Eagles. Barbee finished with two assists.

“We played a real good game against Vilonia,” Bishop said. “They are the exact opposite of what we saw tonight (against Southside Batesville). A team that was going to let us get behind and run create some of those chance. We scored six goals and anytime you do that you feel good about what you did.”

Heber Springs opened the season with a 5-1 loss at Panther Stadium to Harding Academy in Arkansas Activities Association benefit match.

“Of the three teams we’ve played, Harding’s the best team we have faced,” Bishop said. “They do a good job. It’s only the second year of their program, but they are a very good team. We are going to have to beat good teams to get where we want to be at the end of the road.”

February 24  Harding Academy 5, Heber Springs 1 $
March 3      Heber Springs 6, Vilonia 1
March 5      Heber Springs 2, Southside Batesville 0
March 9      at Morrilton               7 p.m.
March 10     Conway St. Joseph          7 p.m.
March 13     Greenbrier                 7 p.m.
March 17     at Conway Christian        7 p.m.
March 19     at Cave City               7 p.m.
March 31     at Mountain View           7 p.m.
April 2      at Wynne *                 7 p.m.
April 4      Southside Batesville Tournament
April 6      Jonesboro Westside *       7 p.m.
April 9      at Brookland *             7 p.m.
April 13     Valley View *              7 p.m.
April 20     at Southside Batesville *  7 p.m.
April 23     at Lonoke *                7 p.m.
April 28     Batesville *               7 p.m.

(* - Denotes 4A-North conference contest.)
($ - Denotes Arkansas Activities Association benefit match. Does not count on official record.)

Heber Springs seventh-grade girls off until January

December 16, 2019

The Heber Springs seventh-grade girls basketball enters the Christmas break with a record of 1-3 and will be off until the new year when they travel to Newport on January 9th.

The squad closed out the 2019 portion of the schedule with a 20-13 win at South Side Bee Branch on December 12.

Kinnison Prince, Baleigh Burchfield, Taylor Parker and Heidi Vowells all scored in the win for the Panthers.

Heber Springs coach Jay Moore added that Faelen Evans, Zoey Hendrix and Kaitlyn Pierce all played great defense and gave great effort.

Heber Springs had been winless on the season before the win over the Hornets. The Panthers dropped a road contest at Cedar Ridge on Dec. 5, a 22-8 decision to Greenbrier at home on Nov. 18 and to Harding Academy, 23-9, on Nov. 11.

November 18 
7th-Grade Girls Box
Greenbrier     10 12 - 22
Heber Springs   6  2 -  8
GREENBRIER SCORING (22): Madison Crum 8, Ally Fulmer 4, Hallie Wharton 4, Karley Hughes 2, Abbey Bangs 2, Meredith Murray 2
HEBER SPRINGS SCORING (8): Taylor Parker 2, Jovie Smithson 2, Baleigh Burchfield 2, Kinnison Prince 2
2019-2020 ROSTER
COACH: Jay Moore
3  Taylor Parker
5  Zoey Hendrix
10 Kaitlyn Pierce
12 Lynnlee Presley
13 Katie Tate
15 Faelan Evans
20 Zoey Shannon
21 Jovie Smithson
22 Baleigh Burchfield
24 Joy Bray
25 Heidi Vowels
31 Kinnison Prince


Jan. 09 - at Newport
Jan. 16 - Mount Vernon-Enola
Jan. 20 - Clinton
Jan. 23 - Marshall
Jan. 27 - at Mayflower
Jan. 30 - at Southside Batesville
Feb. 03 - Quitman
Feb. 06 - Cedar Ridge

Panther Postgame

Heber Springs falls in heartbreaker, 50-49

Heber Springs’ Tri Johnson looks upfield on the opening kickoff return. Johnson picked up nine yards on the return. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

September 20, 2019


HEBER SPRINGS – It was a nonconference slate of a tale of 2-point conversions.

In the opener, Heber Springs failed to convert a 2-point conversion in the final seconds to Clinton and dropped a 28-27 contest. Friday night, Harding Academy (3-0) converted a 2-point conversion with 17.9 seconds left to hand Heber Springs a 50-49 setback.

Heber Springs has started the season 0-3 three out of the past four seasons, including this season, but rebounded in conference play to go 6-1 in conference play in two of those years. The Panthers will open 4A-4 play Friday night at Panther Stadium against Lonoke (1-2).

Against Harding Academy, the fourth quarter turned into an offensive shootout with the two teams trading touchdowns.

Tied at 28-all going into the final stanza, Heber Springs struck first in the quarter with an impressive 15-play, 73-yard drive that consumed the final 3:03 of the third quarter and 2:18 of the fourth.

The Panthers were 16 out of 18 on third-down conversions on the night, including four on the drive.

On third-and-11 from the Panther 45, senior Adam Martin connected with Julio Rubio for a 12-yard completion.

Two plays later the Panthers again faced a third-down situation, this time third-and-1 from the Wildcat 34 as Martin, who rushed for 116 yards on the night, kept for a 4-yard gain on the final play of the third quarter.

After an incomplete pass on first down, Rubio picked up five yards on second down.

On third-and-5 from the 25, Martin again found Rubio for a first down.

Back-to-back 3-yard runs by Adam Martin and Landon Johnson moved the ball to the Wildcat 8.

Two plays later, Rubio would punch the ball in from the 1 to give Heber Springs a 35-28 lead with 9:42 to play, after Jackson Harrod kicked the PAT.

Harding Academy struck quickly with a five-play, 56-yard drive that took only 1:32 off the clock as Caden Sipe, who was 22-of-38 for 366 yards and six touchdowns, connected with Ty Dugger for a 23-yard touchdown strike to make 35-all.

The Panthers used a “Big Cat” play to go back on top 42-35 as Martin connected with Tri Johnson, who also had a 59-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. This time the Johnson raced 76-yards for the score with 7:18 left.

The Wildcats needed four plays to tie things up a 42-42 with 6:07 to play as Sipe found Stone Sheffield for a 34-yard touchdown.

Heber Springs responded with an impressive 11-play, 76-yard drive to go up 49-42 which included two third-down conversions.

Facing third-and-7 from the Panther 26, Martin found Fate Berry for an 11-yard completion.

Two players later, it was another third-down for Heber Springs as Martin found Matthew Cook for a 13-yard completion on a third-and-10.

Three players later, Martin found Rubio for a 15-yard completion to move the ball to the Wildcat 24.

Martin followed with a 14-yard run to put the ball on the Wildcat 10.

On the next play, Rubio raced for paydirt to give the Panthers a 49-42 lead with 1:21 to play.

Harding Academy would go on a nine-play, 80-yard, game-winning drive as Sipe connected with Dugger for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Sipe again used his arm on the 2-point conversion, rolling to his right, he found Connor McGaha in endzone with 17.9.

Heber Springs ran out of time as Martin found Rubio for a 22-yard completion and a 29-yard reception on the games final play.


MASCOT DEBUT: The Heber Springs cheer team debuted Pablo and Piper Panther against Harding Academy for their first football game. The duo had made their first appearance at the volleyball match on Tuesday against Joe T. Robinson at the Panther Den.

Pablo and Piper Panther

WELCOME BACK: Record-setting kicker Julian Cameron was an attendance Friday night. Cameron graduated last spring after setting the state record for most consecutive PAT kicks made without a miss. He is kicking this season for Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

BIG NUMBERS: The two teams combined for more than a thousand yards of total offense. Heber Springs had a season high 603 yards on the night.

WELCOME BACK: After missing last week against Greenbrier for concussion protocol following a non-football injury, senior all-conference performer Tri Johnson returned in a big way with two touchdown receptions and a sack on defense.

BIG CATS: Heber Springs had a season-high three “Big Cat” plays (plays of 50 yards or more) against Harding Academy. Adam Martin was involved with all three. The first was a 68-yard run by Martin to put Heber Springs up 14-0 with 2:17 left in the first quarter. In the third quarter, Martin connected with Tri Johnson for a 59-yard touchdown reception and a 76-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter.

Dalton McCollum (9), far left, celebrates with teammates Lawrence Baureis (25) and Hunter Kent (21), after a first-quarter interception.

FIRST TURNOVER: The Panthers picked-up their first turnover of the season when senior Dalton McCollum took a pass from the Wildcat receiver for the interception. Heber Springs would score on the ensuing drive as Adam Martin found Nathan McKee for a 15-yard touchdown reception.

RED ZONE STOP: Heber Springs picked up its first red zone stop of the season in the second quarter. Opponents had been nine for nine inside the Panther 20 this season before Heber Springs got the second-quarter stop. Harding Academy had reached the Panther 16 before Tri Johnson sacked Caden Sipe for a 15-yard loss on third down forcing a Ryan Fox punt.



Harding Academy (3-0)        0  14  14  22 - 50
Heber Springs (0-3)         14   7   7  21 - 49

Heber Springs - Adam Martin to Nathan McKee 15-yard pass (Jackson Harrod kick), 6:22
Heber Springs - Martin 68-yard run (Harrod kick), 2:17
Harding Academy - Caden Sipe to Isaac Miller 34-yard pass (Ben Sloan kick), 4:54
Heber Springs - Julio Rubio 29-yard run (Harrod kick), 3:34
Harding Academy - Sipe to Connor McGaha 11-yard pass (Sloan kick)
Harding Academy - Stone Sheffield 33-yard run (Sloan kick), 10:52
Heber Springs - Martin to Tri Johnson 59-yard pass (Harrod kick), 5:05
Harding Academy - Sipe to Ty Dugger 26-yard pass (Sloan kick), 3:03
Heber Springs - Rubio 1-yard run (Harrod kick), 9:42
Harding Academy - Sipe to Dugger 23-yard pass (Sloan kick), 8:10
Heber Springs - Martin to Tri Johnson 76-yard pass (Harrod kick), 7:18
Harding Academy - Sipe to Sheffield 34-yard pass (Sloan kick), 6:07
Heber Springs - Rubio 10-yard run (Harrod kick), 1:21
Harding Academy - Sipe to Dugger 16-yard pass (Sipe to McGaha pass), 17.9
Heber Springs Adam Martin runs for positive yardage in the first half against Harding Academy. The senior was responsible for four touchdowns. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 12, Harding Academy 5
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 12, Harding Academy 17
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 1, Harding Academy 2
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 25, Harding Academy 24
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 16/18, Harding Academy 3/7
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 0/0, Harding Academy 0/0
Red-Zone Possessions: Heber Springs 3/3 (3 TDs), Harding 2/3 (2 TDs)
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 30:49, Harding Academy 17:11
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 1/1, Harding Academy 1/0
Turnovers: Heber Springs 1, Harding Academy 1
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 7, Harding Academy 7 
Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 6/45, Harding Academy 3/30
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 72/613/8.5, Harding Academy 56/486/8.7
Rushing: Heber Springs 47/251/5.3, Harding Academy 18/120/6.7
Passing: Heber Springs 18/25-362-3/0, Harding Academy 22/38-366-6/1
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 2/21, Harding Academy 1/3
Punts: Heber Springs 3/130/43.3, Harding Academy 3/88/29.3
Punts Inside 20: Heber Springs 0, Harding Academy 2
The Heber Springs offensive line. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


RUSHING: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 27/127/4.7, Adam Martin 17/116/6.8, Landon Johnson 3/8/2.7. Harding Academy, Stone Sheffield 13/107/8.2, Caden Sipe 5/13/2.6.
RUSHING RUNS OF 50+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1)
RUSHING RUNS OF 40+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1) 
RUSHING RUNS OF 30+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1). Harding Academy, Stone Sheffield (1), Caden Sipe (1).
RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1), Julio Rubio (1). Harding Academy, Stone Sheffield (2), Caden Sipe (1)
RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio (3), Adam Martin (2). Harding Academy, Stone Sheffield (4), Caden Sipe (1).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 18/25-362-3/0. Harding Academy, Caden Sipe 22/38-366-6/1.
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 6/111, Matthew Cook 5/65, Tri Johnson 2/135, Fate Berry 2/23, Nathan McKee 1/15, Landon Johnson 1/8, Hunter Kent 1/5. Harding Academy, Ty Dugger 11/194, Isaac Miller 5/75, Connor McGaha 4/49, Stone Sheffield 1/34, Carter Neal 1/14.
RECEPTIONS OF 50+: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson (2).
RECEPTIONS OF 40+: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson (2)
RECEPTIONS OF 30+: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson (2), Matthew Cook (1). Harding Academy, Ty Dugger (2), Stone Sheffield (1).
RECEPTIONS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson (2), Julio Rubio (2), Matthew Cook (1). Harding Academy, Ty Dugger (5), Stone Sheffield (1).
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 478, Julio Rubio 127, Landon Johnson 8. Harding Academy, Caden Side 379, Stone Sheffield 107.
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 2/39, Tri Johnson 2/30, Levy Phillips 2/14, Jackson West 1/1, Tristan Thissen 1/0. Harding Academy, Ty Dugger 3/69, Stone Sheffield 2/39, Carter Neal 1/13, Parker Golden 1/13. 
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Heber Springs, Dalton McCollum 1/4
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 238, Tri Johnson 165, Adam Martin 116, Matthew Cook 104, Fate Berry 23, Landon Johnson 16, Nathan McKee 15, Levy Phillips 14, Hunter Kent 5, Dalton McCollum 4, Jackson West 1, Tristan Thissen 0. Harding Academy, Ty Dugger 263, Stone Sheffield 180, Isaac Miller 75, Connor McGaha 49, Carter Neal 27, Parker Golden 13, Caden Sipe 13.
TACKLES (Shared/Solo/Total): Heber Springs, Fate Berry 4/2/6, Levy Phillips 2/3/5, Tri Johnson 2/2/4, Landon Johnson 2/0/2, Dalton McCollum 0/2/2, Kaden Hughes 2/0/2, Hunter Kent 1/1/2, Nathan McKee 1/1/2, Jackson West 1/1/2, Lawrence Baureis 2/0/2, Tristan Thissen 0/1/1, Devon Doxey 1/0/1, Matthew Cook 1/0/1, Harley Bresnahan 1/0/1, Gus Hannah 1/0/1.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 1.5, Fate Berry 1, Kaden Hughes .5
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 1/15, Fate Berry 1/6. Harding Academy, Cooper Welch 1/3/
INTERCEPTIONS: Heber Springs, Dalton McCollum 1/4
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Harding Academy, Team 1/0
PUNTING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 3/130/43.3. Harding Academy, Ryan Fox 3/88/29.3
PUNTS INSIDE 20: Harding Academy, Ryan Fox (2).
Heber Springs junior Matthew Cook gets brought down by Harding Academy defender Friday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Opening Coin Toss and Panther Run Out

Heber Springs Cheer and Dance Halftime Show

Heber Springs Band Halftime Show

Heber Springs Halftime Band Jam With Students


Panther GameDay

Cat Fight: Heber Springs hosts Harding Academy

Heber Springs’ Fate Berry looks to avoid the tackle of a Greenbrier defender. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium
  • Admission: $5
  • Radio: Billy Morgan with handle the play-by-play with Lance Hamilton providing color on KSUG 101.9 The Lake. Panther Pregame begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the game.  You can listen live here.


Panthers fall in heartbreaker in Searcy.


Panthers tumble at Greenbrier, 35-21

Heber Springs’ Dalton McCollum and Matthew Cook. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


  • Little Rock Hall 22, Little Rock Mills 16
  • Greenbrier 35, Heber Springs 21
  • Beebe 45, Lonoke 44 (OT)
  • Southside Batesville 43, Trumann 30
  • Riverview 21, Highland 20
  • Warren 62, Stuttgart 27
  • Central Arkansas Christian 40, Baptist Prep 38


  • Harding Academy (2-0) at Heber Springs (0-2)
  • Haskell Harmony Grove (1-1) at Bald Knob (0-2)
  • Newport (2-0) at Lonoke (0-2)
  • Central Arkansas Christian (2-0) at Clinton (2-0)
  • Little Rock Mills (1-1) at Maumelle (2-0)
  • Idle: Southside Batesville (2-1), Stuttgart (0-3), Riverview (2-1)



TURNOVERS: Heber Springs is minus five in turnover ratio. The Panthers have yet to pick-up a turnover and have fumbled three times and given up two interceptions.

NONCONFERENCE WOES: Heber Springs has lost five consecutive regular-season nonconference games. The Panthers last regular season nonconference win came on Sept. 15, 2017, at Panther Stadium against Harding Academy, 35-14. Since 2015, Heber Springs is 2-12 in regular-season nonconference games. However, over the stretch the Panthers have went 22-6 in conference play, including 18-3 over the past three seasons.

BIG CAT PLAY: The Panthers recorded their first “Big Cat” play (over 50 yards) last week against Greenbrier when Julio Rubio ran for a 72-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

BACK TO ACTION: Senior receiver Tri Johnson missed last weeks game for concussion protocol. Johnson was injured in a non-football event.

MASCOT DEBUT: The new male and female Panther mascots will make their debut tonight. Pablo and Piper made their debut at Tuesday’s volleyball match at the Panther Den. Try-outs were held this week to determine who gets to wear the costumes on game nights.

SEE YA’ IN WEEK TWO: This will be the sixth year in a row that Heber Springs and Harding Academy have meet in week three, but that will change next year. The Panthers and Wildcats will meet in week 2 beginning in 2020. Dover will be Heber Springs opponent in week 3 in 2020.



Harding Academy sets at 2-0 on the season. The Wildcats opened the season with a convincing 55-20 win over 4A-2 member Bald Knob in week 0. Harding Academy followed that with another convincing win, this time a 47-20 victory Heber Springs coach Will Cox’ alma mater, Highland. Against Bald Knob, the Wildcats exploded with 35 second-quarter points and led 41-20 at the half. Junior quarterback Caden Sipe was 24-of-29 passing for 292 yards and five touchdowns with an interception. On the ground, senior Stone Sheffield rushed 22 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Sipe’s favorite receiving target was junior Ty Dugger, who caught 13 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Jeffrey Mercer finished with 10 total tackles for the Wildcats. In week 1, Harding Academy led Highland, 37-6, at the half. Sipe followed up his week 0 performance with another impressive outing, finishing 18-of-23 passing for 261 yards and five touchdowns. Seniors Connor McGaha and Sheffield each finished with more than 100 yards receiving as four different Wildcat receivers finished with at least three receptions. The Wildcats rushed 17 times for 95 yards as team agains the Rebels with Sheffield finishing with 73 yards and a touchdown.


Heber Springs vs. Harding Academy
The Series
Harding Academy leads 31-14

LAST MEETING: 2018 in Searcy, Harding Academy won 29-27

LAST WEEK: Heber Springs lost to Greenbrier, 35-21; Harding Academy was idle

TONIGHT: Friday night’s match-up at Panther Stadium in Heber Springs will be the 46th in the series between Heber Springs and Harding Academy. The two teams first met in 1951. Heber Springs won that contest 33-6. The Panthers won the first two meetings before the Wildcats won three straight.

OLD CONFERENCE FOES: The Panthers and Wildcats played continuously from 1951 until 1969. The two teams were part of the 2B conference from 1951-1968 and part of the 2A-South in 1969.

STATE CHAMPIONS: Harding Academy has won six state titles 1976, 1977, 1983, 2002, 2012 and 2015. The two teams did not meet when the Wildcats won the title in 1976, 1977 and 2002. In 1983, Harding Academy defeated Heber Springs, 19-14. In 2012, Heber Springs led 6-0, but the game was canceled due to weather in the first quarter. In 2015, the Widlcats won 40-12.

HIATUS: From 1995 through 2006, the two teams only meet twice, both games won by Harding Academy in 1998 and 1999. Since the series resumed in 2010, the two teams have played eight completed games with each team winning four times.

SEPTEMBER 20: The two teams have faced each other on this date only once in the series. In 1956, Harding Academy won 33-6 in game played at Searcy.

SHUTOUTS: The Panthers have won three games by shutouts, while the Wildcats have shutout Heber Springs, 13 times. The last shutout in the series came in 1993, a 28-0 win by the Wildcats.

TOUCHDOWN OR LESS: 11 games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less, including last year. There have been no overtime games in the series.

MOST POINTS: The most points scored by the Panthers in series was 49 in 2011 while Harding Academy has scored 46 twice, 1999 and 2016.



Heber Springs 14 7 0 27 – 48

Opponent 14 14 21 14 – 63


First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 34, Opponent 23

First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 6, Opponent 11

First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Opponent 2

Total First Downs: 40, Opponent 37

Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 12/23 (52), Opponent 6/15 (40)

Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 7/10 (70), Opponent 1 /2 (50)

Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 5/5 (5 tds), Opponent 9/9 (9 tds)

Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 4/3, Opponent 3/0

Turnovers: Heber Springs 5, Opponent 0

Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 0, Opponent 14

Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 13/101, Opponent 12/86

Plays/Total Offense/YPP: 130/737/5.7, Opponent 90/549/6.1

Rushing: Heber Springs 106/621/5.9, Opponent 72/321/4.5

Passing: Heber Springs 12/24-115-0/2, Opponent 21/30-228-2/0

Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 5/30, Opponent 5/21

Punts: Heber Springs 2/80/40, Opponent 6/213/35.5



RUSHING (ATT/YARDS/PER ATTEMPT/PER GAME/TDS): Adam Martin 53/281/5.3/140.5/1, Julio Rubio 40/214/5.4/107/4, Landon Johnson 17/68/4/34/2, Nathan McKee 1/6/6/3/0.

BIG CAT RUNS (50+): Julio Rubio 1

RUNS OF 40+: Julio Rubio 1

RUNS OF 30+: Julio Rubio 2

RUNS OF 20+: Adam Martin 3, Julio Rubio 2

RUNS OF 10+: Adam Martin 10, Julio Rubio 6, Landon Johnson 1.

PASSING (ATT/COMP-YARDS-TDS/INT): Adam Martin 12/24-115-0/2.

RECEIVING (REC/YARDS/PER CATCH): Hunter Kent 3/27/9, Matthew Cook 3/21/7, Nathan McKee 2/24/12, Julio Rubio 2/20/10, Fate Berry 1/7/7, Tri Johnson 1/6/6.

TOTAL OFFENSE (OFFENSE/PER GAME): Adam Martin 396/198, Julio Rubio 214/107, Landon Johnson 68/34, Nathan McKee 6/3

KICKOFF RETURNS: Hunter Kent 3/46/15.3, Matthew Cook 1/13/13, Julio Rubio 1/12/12, Nathan McKee 1/11/11, Tri Johnson 1/7/7.




ALL-PURPOSE YARDS (YARDS/PER GAME): Adam Martin 281/140.5, Julio Rubio 246/123, Hunter Kent 73/36.5, Landon Johnson 68/34, Nathan McKee 41/20.5, Matthew Cook 34/17, Tri Johnson 13/13, Fate Berry 7/3.5.


TACKLES (SHARED/SOLO/TOTAL): Fate Berry 16/6/22, Levy Phillips 8/4/12, Landon Johnson 5/6/11, Kaden Hughes 4/5/9, Hunter Kent 4/4/8, Lawrence Baureis 2/6/8, Matthew Cook 5/2/7, Harley Bresnhan 3/2/5, Dalton McCollum 2/2/4, Jackson West 2/1/3, Trent Barnes 1/1/2, Preston Jones 1/1/2, Devon Doxey 1/0/1, Jackson Harrod 1/0/1.

TACKLES FOR LOSS: Kaden Hughes 2, Landon Johnson 2, Fate Berry 2, Levy Phillips 2, Tri Johnson 1, Harley Bresnahan 1.

SACKS/YARDS LOST: Levy Phillips 1/ 5, Kaden Hughes 1/ 4, Harley Bresnahan 1/ 4, Tri Johnson 1/ 3, Fate Berry 1/ 3



SCORING: Julio Rubio 24 (4 tds), Landon Johnson 12 (2 tds), Adam Martin 6 (1 td), Jackson Harrod 6 (6-6 PAT)


Senior Harley Hannah was the offensive player of the week against Greenbrier for helping anchor the offensive line for more than 300-yards rushing. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


OFFENSE – Adam Martin and Julio Rubio. DEFENSE – Fate Berry


OFFENSE – Harley Hannah. DEFENSE – Levy Phillips



Heber Springs’ Eli Buffalo gets a block from teammate Emmett Dwyer in sixth-grade youth football action on Saturday at Panther Stadium. Heber Springs (3-0) defeated Bald Knob, 39-6. All Heber Springs youth teams play at Clinton on Saturday in the Little Battle of the Little Red. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Heber Springs fifth-grader Jacob Riddle looks for running room against Midland. The Midland 5th- and 6th-Grade defeated the Heber Springs 5th-Grade team in youth football action on Saturday at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Heber Springs’ Golden Tate runs for a big gain against the Bald Knob 3rd-Graders on Saturday at Panther Stadium. Bald Knob defeated the Heber Springs 4th-Graders, 28-15. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Panther Cub D.J. Nolan reacts as he gets a little help talking off his shoulder pads following Heber Springs’ contest with Midland’s third- and fourth-grade team on Saturday at Panther Stadium. Heber Springs (2-1) fell to Midland, 6-0. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Panthers split 4A-Central matches this week.


  • Saturday, September 21 – Cross Country at North Little Rock
  • Monday, September 23 – Volleyball vs. Rose Bud, 4:30 p.m.
  • Monday, September 23 – Golf at Red Apple Inn
  • Tuesday, September 24 – Volleyball at Lonoke, 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 24 – Cross Country at Sloan-Hendrix
  • Tuesday, September 24 – Golf at Red Apple Inn
  • Tuesday, September 24 – Tennis vs. Dardanelle, 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 26 – Volleyball vs. Morrilton, 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 26 – 7th-Grade Football at Lonoke, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 26 – Junior High Football at Lonoke, 7 p.m.

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Panthers fall in heartbreaker

September 14, 2018


SEARCY – In game of momentum swings, Harding Academy took advantage of the last one to pull out a 29-27 nonconference victory over Heber Springs at First Security Stadium.
Ben Sloan’s 25-yard field goal with 2:01 left in the game proved to be the difference for the Wildcats. The field goal came three plays after Parker Golden blocked an Adam Martin punt at the 29 and Brooks Tipton recovered it at the 19 for Harding Academy.
The Panthers managed to get a first down on the ensuing drive but Martin’s fourth-down pass attempt was incomplete with 47 seconds left and Harding Academy killed the clock to improve to 2-1 on the season.
Heber Springs fell to 0-3 for the second time in the past three seasons. The last time the Panthers started 0-3 they earned the No. 1 seed out of the 2-4A conference in 2016.
Heber Springs will kick-off conference play Friday night at Lonoke (1-2).
The loss also overshadowed another impressive performance by running back Blaze Nelson. Nelson carried the ball 29 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also caught three passes for 48 yards to finish with 238 yards of total offense. Nelson has rushed for 558 yards on 75 carries with seven touchdowns in three games this season for Heber Springs.
Harding Academy quarterback Davis Morgan was the offensive catalyst for the Wildcats. He passed for 217 yards and two scores and rushed for 130 times and two more touchdowns.
The Panthers won the toss and took the ball, but Harding forced the Panthers to a three-and-out on Heber Springs’ first possession. It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to score on their first drive. Four straight running plays covered 70 yards in 1:18 to give Harding Academy at 7-0 lead with 9:45 in the first quarter. Morgan carried on the last two for 52 yards, the latter a 16-yard run for the score.
Heber Springs followed with a nice 11-play, 51-yard drive that pushed the ball to the Wildcat 13. But on fourth-and-2, Harding Academy’s Braden Oliver stopped Nelson a yard short of the first-down marker. Nelson carried the ball nine times on the drive for 38 yards.
Harding Academy took the ball from just outside the 11 and appeared to be marching downfield for another score when junior Jackson Harrod stepped in front of Morgan pass attempt at the one-inch line as the first quarter ended.
On the first play of the second quarter, Martin connected with Tri Johnson on a long strike. After avoiding a tackle near the Wildcat 40, Johnson broke free and outran three Harding Academy defenders to complete the 99-yard plus scoring play. Julian Cameron added the PAT to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:44 left before the half.
The Wildcats moved the ball from their own 20 to the Panther 44 before a chop-block penalty stalled out the Harding Academy drive at the 8:08 mark.
Heber Springs took over on the Panther 34. After a first-down run of eight yards by Martin, two plays later, Nelson took the handoff at the Wildcat 49, ran into a group of Harding Academy defenders, spun free and found nothing in front of him except the end zone to give Heber Springs its first lead of the night with 5:59 left in the second quarter.
In the season opener at Clinton, the Yellowjackets successfully recovered an on-side kick attempt to start the second half. Clinton would later score and turn the game in their favor. Flash forward two weeks and Harding Academy did the same thing to take a 20-14 lead in the halftime lockerrom.
After the two teams traded possessions, the Wildcats took over on their own 19 with 3:11 left in the half. After a pair of first down runs and two incompletions, Harding Academy was facing a third-and-10 on its own 48. Morgan found Stone Sheffield open for a short completion and he did the rest racing 52 yards to tie things up at 14-all with 2:00 minutes to play on the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats attempted an on-sides kick, the ball bounced off a Panther where a waiting Tipton landed on the football for Harding Academy.
Morgan connected with Caleb Campbell on a 47-yard pass completion on the next play to put the ball on the Panther 5. From there, Morgan did the rest with his feet at 1:57 mark. The PAT kick failed and Harding Academy led 20-14. The Panthers drove to the Wildcat 43 before turning the ball over on downs.
Harding Academy threatened again but sophomore Matthew Cook intercepted the Morgan pass attempt to leave the score 20-14 at the half.
With Morgan sick on the sidelines on the Wildcats first possession of the second half, the Heber Springs defense held Harding Academy to a three-and-out.
The Panthers took over on their own 29 after the Wildcat punt. On a third-and-12, Martin found senior Rocky Finney for a 13-yard completion. After an incompletion, Nelson rushed for 8, 17 and 6 yards to move the ball to the Wildcat 29. Martin rambled for 10 and another first down before the Wildcats were able to stop Nelson on consecutive carries. On third-and-7, Martin raced free to score an apparent 16-yard touchdown but holding penalty negated the score. After offsetting penalties again on third down, Martin found Finney for the 28-yard scoring strike. Cameron’s PAT made 21-20 in favor of Heber Springs with 4:51 left in the third.
The Wildcats responded taking over on their own 20 and moving downfield on short runs by Morgan and Sheffield to reach the Panther 32. From there the flags came out in favor of the Wildcats. On second down, Heber Springs was guilty of an obvious pass interference call in the end zone that saved a touchdown. On the next play at the Panther 17, pass interference was again called against Heber Springs in the end zone. This time it appeared the Finney had timed the play perfectly but a flag was thrown. After a pair of runs from the 8 by Morgan, Connor McGaha scored on a 1-yard touchdown reception from Morgan. The two-point pass attempt failed as the Wildcats led 26-21 with 10:46 left in the contest.
After taking possession at the Panther 37 on the ensuing kickoff, four consecutive runs by Nelson pushed the ball to the Wildcat 23. From there, Martin kept the ball for five yards before Nelson finished off the drive with an 18-yard run with 8:38 to play. The two-point run failed.
Morgan found Jimmy Citty for a 15-yard completion on the Wildcats first play of the ensuing drive, but from there the Panther defense stiffened. On second-and-5 from the 50, Dalton Hall stopped Morgan for no gain and on third down, Fate Berry threw Citty for a two-yard loss on an end-around attempt forcing the Wildcats to punt.
Heber Springs took over from its own 30 with 6:22 to play. After runs by Nelson and Martin, Tipton sacked Martin for a six-yard loss on third-and-5, forcing the punt that would be blocked by Golden.
Tanner Tillman and Fate Berry each had 10 total tackles to lead the Panthers on defense. Landon Johnson had 9 and Blaze Nelson finished with 8.

First downs: Heber Springs 15, Harding Academy 18
Rushing Att-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 36-209-5.8, Harding Academy 41-199-4.9
Passing Comp-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 10-22-220-0, Harding Academy 12-21-217-2
Total Offense: Heber Springs 416, Harding Academy 414
Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 0-0, Harding Academy 2-15
Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 6-50, Harding Academy 2-20
Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 1-1, Harding Academy 1-0.
Punts-Avg: Heber Springs 3-17.3, Harding Academy 3-24.7
Rushing: Heber Springs – Blaze Nelson 29-120, Adam Martin 6-15, Julio Rubio 1-4. Harding Academy – Davis Morgan 20-130, Stone Sheffield 15-71, Jimmy Citty 4-7, Team 2-(-9).
Passing: Heber Springs – Adam Martin 10-22-220-0. Harding Academy – Davis Morgan 12-21-217-2.
Receiving: Heber Springs – Rocky Finney 6-73-1, Blaze Nelson 3-48, Tri Johnson 1-99-1. Harding Academy – Connor McGaha 6-90-1, Caleb Campbell 2-45, Jimmy Citty 2-24, Stone Sheffield 1-52-1, Carter Neal 1-6.