Heber Springs’ Martin signs with Arkansas Tech

February 5, 2020

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Quarterback Adam Martin capped his Heber Springs High School football career by signing a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II letter-of-intent with Arkansas Tech at the Panther Den Tuesday.

Martin, who started the final two games of his freshman season and the past three years, led the Panthers to a 21-17 record, four playoff appearances and a share of a conference championship.

Overall, Martin completed 387-of-662 passes for 5,051 yards and 42 touchdowns. He rushed for 2,042 yards and scored 30 touchdowns.

“I’m very excited, like Russellville and excited what the future will hold,” said Martin when asked about selecting Arkansas Tech. “I’m ready to start working on my football career in Russellville. I like the coaches who kept in touch with me throughout the process. They were honest and treated me like family.”

Will Cox, who was interim head coach last season for the Panthers, said Martin was one of the key parts on offense. Martin was responsible for 54 percent of the team’s touchdowns and 64 percent of the team’s total offense.

In 2019, Martin completed 139-of-232 passes for 1,627 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the team’s second-leading rusher with 864 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Martin also handled the punting duties.

“I only coached Adam during the past two years, but he played well beyond his years,” Cox said. “He took pride in how he played. I’m happy he is getting this opportunity. His stats are incredible and only tells part of the story. Adam always put our offense in good position to be successful.”
Cox said he never doubted Martin would play college football and said his new coach will learn quickly how valuable of a player he is.

Heber Springs’ Adam Martin waits to sign his letter-of-intent with Arkansas Tech University. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“I told every coach once he gets in your program, you would see why,” Cox said. “Adam is the best high school quarterback I ever coached. His best attributes are leadership and he holds himself to a higher standard than others.”

Martin is expected to compete for playing time next season for the Wonder Boys, who tied for eighth place with East Central Oklahoma in the Great American Conference last season during head coach Kyle Shipp’s first season.

“Most likely, I will probably be redshirted, but that decision will not be made until after the August camp,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting to Tech. Coach Shipp takes pride in being a Wonder Boy (player and assistant coach before becoming head coach). The program is going in the right direction.”

Martin was one of three quarterbacks signed.

“I’m excited about all of the kids that we’re signing,” Shipp said. “I feel like it’s a very good class from top to bottom. This class is a building block to where we want to get to in the future. Along with our returning class we feel like this group will have the chance to be special.”

Martin said he is ready for the challenge and compared it to when he was summoned to the varsity during his freshman year for the Panthers.

“I already was playing junior high basketball and coach (Darren) Gowen came and told me I was going to be playing more football,” Martin said. “I learned a lot in those games. I have so many memories, but two of the highlights were winning at Southside Batesville during my junior year and defeating Riverview at senior night last season.”

Martin said it was special to play on the same field as his father, Danny.

Adam Martin poses with father, Danny, in front of the Heber Springs High School class of 1981 class portrait. Danny was a 1981 graduate of Heber Springs. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“I built a lot of relationships in the locker room and the community,” he said. “It also was special playing where my dad and uncles did.”

Martin continues to play for the Heber Springs basketball team and will compete for the baseball squad before heading to Russellville.

“Learning a new playbook will be the first challenge,” he said. “I need to become more physically because Division II football is a different game than high school. I want to get it up to their standards.”

Martin will join former teammate, Julian Cameron, at Tech. Cameron signed with the Wonder Boys last spring and redshirted this past season.

Martin is also the fifth Panther football player in the past three seasons to sign to play college football joining Cameron (Arkansas Tech), Blaze Nelson (Lyon College), J.J. Bray (Southwest Baptist, Mo.) last year and Jacob Bremmon (Hendrix) in 2018.

RELATED ARTICLE: Arkansas Tech announces 2020 signing class

Adam Martin with his family.

ADAM MARTIN INTERVIEW

HEBER SPRINGS COACH WILL COX

FORMER HEBER SPRINGS COACH DARREN GOWEN

Martin commits to Arkansas Tech

Heber Springs’ Adam Martin gets ready to throw a pass against Shiloh Christian in 4A playoff action in November. Martin recently committed to continue his football career at Arkansas Tech in Russellville. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

January 9, 2020

BY LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Heber Springs senior quarterback Adam Martin will not go too far away from home to play college football.

Martin, who was recently named to Class 4A all-state team, announced he will sign a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II letter of intent with Arkansas Tech.

In 2019, Martin completed 139-of-238 passes for 1,648 yards and 13 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He was the team’s second-leading rusher with 865 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Martin ran for more than 100 yards four times.

Martin became the starting quarterback for the Panthers late in 2016 as a freshman. He started the next three seasons.

Martin will join former teammate, Julian Cameron, at Arkansas Tech. Cameron, a kicker, redshirted this past season for the Wonder Boys after signing last spring.

Players may sign letters of intent with NCAA schools beginning on Feb. 5.

Panthers crush the Comets, head to playoffs

November 2, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

HEBER SPRINGS – The Heber Springs Panthers accomplished what they needed too in a 47-6 4A-2 victory over Little Rock Mills, and even left with a couple of records.

Coming into Friday night’s contest at Panther Stadium against winless Little Rock Mills, Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen had said he was more concerned about his team, how they played and more importantly, that his team just had fun.

It would be easy to say that happened on a night that seniors were honored before the game.

Senior running back Blaze Nelson rushed eight times for 198 yards and four touchdowns while the defense held Mills to 80 yards of total offense in the first half as the Panthers built up a 40-0 lead at the break and emptied the bench in the second half.

“We got everybody in there, even the foreign exchange students,” Gowen said. “It was great to take care of business like we needed to, get everybody on the field, stay healthy and get ready for the playoffs.”

Heber Springs (6-4, 6-1 in 4A-2) almost got a gift from the Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs on Friday night, but a last second field goal that would have sent that game into overtime fell short as Stuttgart claimed a 30-27 victory and the overall conference crown — a Ricebird loss would have given the Panthers a share of the 4A-2 title. 

Heber Springs will head into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and host Pocahontas (4-6) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium.

Against the Comets, it didn’t take long for the Panthers to strike. After a 15-yard run by senior Dalton Hall on the games first play from scrimmage, Nelson raced past the Mills defenders for a 65-yard score. The Julian Cameron PAT kick made it 7-0 with 11:27 to play in the first quarter.

Mills followed with a nine-play drive that netted only seven yards but ate more than three minutes off the clock before Heber Springs would take over on Comet 44. After a pair of Nelson runs, Adam Martin connected with senior Rocky Finney for a 19-yard completion that put the ball on the 2. From there, Nelson would run up the middle to make 14-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter.

Mills (0-10, 0-7) then put together a 14-play, 61-yard drive that netted nearly all of its first-half offense and pushed the ball to the Panther 18. But the Heber Springs first-team defense, which has allowed only four touchdowns during the Panther’s five-game winning streak to close the regular season, stopped the Comets a yard short on fourth-and-2.

Nelson took over from the carrying twice before finally breaking free on his third carry of the drive for a 76-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 with 10:07 left to play in the first half.

Sophomore Matthew Cook got the ball right back for Heber Springs when he stepped in front of Braelon Adams pass attempt on the Comets first play from scrimmage on the drive and returned it 27 yards. 

The Panthers didn’t waste any time as Martin hit Finney in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 with 9:28 left in the second quarter.

After a three-and-out, Hall tackled the Mills punter in the end zone for a safety to make it 30-0 at the 7:38 mark.

On the ensuing possession after the Comet free kick, Nelson raced 23 yards to score his 26th rushing touchdown of the season to make it 37-0 Heber Springs with 5:17 left in the half. The 26 rushing touchdowns by Nelson ties a school record set by Braylon Mitchell in 2009.

Heber Springs would add one more score in the first half when Cameron connected on a 35-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left on the clock.

With the Arkansas Activities Association Mercy Rule in effect in the second half, Heber Springs added one more score when sophomore Diego Rubio scored on a 17-yard run. Seth Dickeson hit the PAT kick to make 47-0 with 8:38 left in the third.

Mills’ Demetrius Abernathy set the final score with a six-yard run with 43 seconds to play in the third quarter.

TEAM STATS

First Downs: Heber Springs 10, Mills 10

Third-Downs: Heber Springs 2-5, Mills 2-8

Fourth-Downs: Heber Springs 0-0, Mills 2-4

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 25-296-11.8, Mills 32-143-4.5

Passing Comp.-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 4-5 67 0, Mills 5-11 54 2

Total Offense: Heber Springs 363, Mills 197

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 1-0, Mills 0-0

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 7-55, Mills 2-15

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 0-0, Mills 4-1

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 1-53, Mills 2-26.5

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing: Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 8-198-4, Jackson West 5-17, Diego Rubio 4-31-1, Levy Phillips 4-31, Adam Martin 3-4, Dalton Hall 1-15. Mills, Braelon Adams 14-84, Terryn Withers 9-20, Malik Bean 4-33, Demetrius Abernathy 2-14, Favionne Bell 1-4, Logan Archer 1-(-2), Landen Epps 1-(-10).

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 4-5 67 1-0. Mills, Braleon Adams 5-11 54 0-2.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 2-51-1, Seth Dickeson 1-9, Landon Johnson 1-7. Mills, Jaden Withers 4-42, Malik Bean 1-12.

Heber Springs blanks Southside Batesville, clinches playoff berth

October 19, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE – Heber Springs did something Friday night only one other Panther football team has done this decade, and that was shut out an opponent.

Heber Springs used a “bend but don’t break” defense, two big pass plays and one long drive to claim a 21-0 4A-2 victory over Southside Batesville Friday night in a game that was played in a steady downpour at times.

“I’d take a one-point win, but 21-0?” Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen said. “I wasn’t thinking shutout, but the defense played incredible.”

The last time the Panthers blanked an opponent was on Oct. 5, 2012, a 54-0 victory at Marianna-Lee.

The Panther defense limited Southside Batesville (4-4, 2-3 in 4A-2) to 189 total yards, but only 57 yards and two first downs in the second half. 

“The defense just dominated in the second half,” Gowen said.

Heber Springs (4-4, 4-1) clinched a playoff berth with the win and have put themselves in a position to clinch a home playoff berth this week (the conference’s top three seeds get a first-round playoff game at home)”

“They put themselves in a position that they want to be in,” Gowen said of his team. “We just have to take care of business the next two weeks.”

It was a sluggish start for both teams Friday night.

The Panthers coughed up the football on the Southside 14 early in the contest. Later in the quarter, Tri Johnson recovered a muff punt return at the Southerner 18. However, the drive would stall and Julian Cameron’s 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

“We were kind of feeling each other out,” Gowen said. “I thought we back to doing some of our old stuff of just trying to figure out if we could play with them, block them, that sort of stuff. Then we realized that we could get after them.”

And “get after them” they did, early in the second quarter.

The Southerners put together their best drive of the night marching from their own 18 on a 14-play drive that stalled out at the Panther 22 with 9:59 left to go in the half. Southside had reached the Panther 11 before Alex Bryant held Alex Palmer to a two-yard gain on first down. Then Southside quarterback Koby Rich was called for intentional grounding on second down pushing the ball back to the 22. Two more pass attempts by Rich were also incomplete and Heber Springs took over on downs.

Junior quarterback Adam Martin carried for seven yards on first down, before senior Blaze Nelson took over. Nelson carried the ball eight times before scoring on a 20-yard run on his ninth carry. Cameron’s PAT kick made it 7-0.

After the Panther defense held the Southerner’s to a three-and-out, it was time for a trick play.

On first down from the Panther 43, Nelson took the pitch from Martin, pulled in the Southside defense in and lobbed the ball downfield where both Johnson and Rocky Finney were waiting for it wide open. Johnson took it and raced downfield for the score to make it 14-0 Heber Springs with 3:24 to play before halftime.

“He came back to me, ‘That was an awful pass’, and said, ‘No, that was a touchdown’,” Gowen said of Nelson. 

“We had that incredible drive were we ran every play and scored, and we were going to take a shot when we scored (that touchdown). We got a stop, got it back and that’s what we did.”

Gowen said the play had been set up the week prior against Bald Knob.

“We ran that formation three times last week, and they were all sweeps,” he said. “I knew they were going to be aggressive.

“I told him (Nelson) to catch it, act like you are going to run it, and just chunk it up there. It slipped out his hand a little bit, but Rocky and Tri were both wide open. We got it to Tri and he just out ran them to the end zone. That was a big play. It put us up two touchdowns at halftime.”
After a 29-yard kickoff return, Southside appeared to be cutting into that two-touchdown advantage reaching the Panther 10 with seconds remaining in the half. But Landon Johnson tipped the Rich pass attempt and Finney picked it off in the end zone to keep it 14-0 at the half.

“We talked about that play all week to Landon,” Gowen said. “‘You have to get under the curl. You have to get under the Curl’ and he did. He tipped it and then Rocky made the play.”

The Panthers sealed the game early in the fourth quarter when Martin connected with Finney at the Southside 40. Finney made a spin move on the defender, then out ran him to complete the 63-yard play to make it 21-0 with 9:25 left.

“I was probably too conservative (on the play calling in the second half),” Gowen said. “We knew with their coverage if we got the ball to him (Finney) quick, that he would probably have a big play. Didn’t know he would score, but he broke a tackle and did that.”

Justin Bray had a late interception with 3:40 let to play on a screen pass attempt to seal the win for Heber Springs.

“We worked on that all week because they do all of those screens,” Gowen said. “We worked on our d-linemen seeing it.

“We had just subbed him in. He saw the screen and they threw it right to him.”

Heber Springs finished with 307 yards of total offense, led by Nelson’s 148 yards on the ground on 29 attempts.

The Panthers travel to Searcy on Friday to tangle with Riverview for their final regular season road game of the season. A win by Heber Springs would clinch them the conference’s No. 2 seed and first-round playoff game at home against the No. 5 seed from the 4A-3 (either Gosnell or Pocahontas).

TEAM STATS

First Downs: Heber Springs 12, Southside 10

Third-Downs: Heber Springs 4-10, Southside 2-12

Fourth-Downs: Heber Springs 0-2, Southside 1-5

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 40-192-4.8, Southside 39-130-3.3

Passing Comp.-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 2-8 120 0, Southside 8-18 59 2

Total Offense: Heber Springs 307, Southside 189

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 0-0, Southside 1-5

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 3-15, Southside 5-41

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 2-2, Southside 3-1

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 3-50, Southside 5-38

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing: Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 29-148-1, Dalton Hall 5-41, Adam Martin 3-7, Team 3-(-4). Southside, Brayden Duncan 19-55, Alex Palmer 12-44, Braden Jones 3-13, Koby Rich 2-14, Caden Huskey 2-8, Will Sitkowski 1-(-4).

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 1-7 63 1-0, Blaze Nelson 1-1 57 1-0. Southside, Koby Rich 5-10 40 0-1, Braden Jones 3-8 19 0-1.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 1-63-1, Tri Johnson 1-57-1. Southside, Will Sitkowski 5-29, Kilynn Dugger 2-29, Caden Huskey 1-1. 

Big return helps Panthers mercy-rule Bulldogs

October 12, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

HEBER SPRINGS – The pomp and circumstance wasn’t relegated to the crowing of homecoming queen Carlei Douglas and her court before Friday’s night 4A-2 contest between Heber Springs and Bald Knob at Panther Stadium.

Senior Rocky Finney provided a little bit of his own with a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown that helped spark the Panthers to 21-point lead at the half as they cruised to a 42-14 mercy-rule victory over Bald Knob to improve to 3-1 in conference play.

After a 39-yard touchdown run by Blaze Nelson gave the Panthers a 21-7 lead with 4:15 to play in the second quarter, the two teams traded possession before the Bulldogs (3-4, 1-3) appeared to be driving for a score to make it a seven-point game.

Bulldog quarterback Johnson Capps had led his team from the Bald Knob 26 to the Heber Springs 27 with a pair of completions to Eli Mean, but with just over 21 seconds to play before the half, Capps was looking for Mean again when Finney stepped in front of the pass in full stride from the Panther 6. He wouldn’t stop until he found the Bulldog end zone to give Heber Springs a 28-7 lead.

It was Finney’s third interception in the past two weeks.

“Last week, I had two that I took pretty far, but I didn’t get into the end zone,” Finney said. “On this one, I was determined to not let them stop me.”

And determined he was.

After racing down the Panther sideline, he split of pair of Bulldog offensive linemen near the Panther 35, cut across the field and avoided five tackle attempts before reaching the Bald Knob sidelines at the Bulldog 40 where he outran the Bald Knob players pursuing him for the score.

“The play of the game was Rocky’s interception,” Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen said. “He weaves back-and-forth, through people and around them, and takes it to the house.

“It put us up three touchdowns and we get the ball to start the second half. We go and score and put the mercy rule on them early in the second half.”

Finney finished the night with 290 all-purpose yards, including 157 yards receiving on seven receptions.

“You have a special guy and he is starting to come on,” Gowen said. “The last two weeks he has played really well.

“It’s a tribute to the way he practices, and he’s had two really good weeks of practicing hard. He’s showing out in games and I’m just proud of him.”

It was a big night for Nelson. The senior topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season with 127 yards on 18 carries for three touchdowns. He now has 1,050 yards on the ground.

His first score came with 11:40 to play in the second quarter with a five-yard run to cap off a nine play, 70-yard drive. After the Julian Cameron extra point, the Panthers led 7-0.

Bald Knob answered with its own nine play, 65-yard drive to tie things up at 7-all with 7:41 to play before the half after Capps connected with Mean for a 13-yard pass.

The Panthers wasted little time taking the lead as junior quarterback Adam Martin scored on a 1-yard sneak at the 6:04 mark of the second quarter to make it 14-7.

Martin finished the night completing 17 of 21 pass attempts for 232 yards.

One those passes, a 22-yarder to Finney, helped push the Panthers from the 50 to Bald Knob 28 on Heber Springs’ first drive of the second half. After Nelson carried three times to move the ball for the Bulldog 11, senior Dalton Hall took over picking up nine yards before scoring on a two-yard run with 8:40 to play in the third to put Heber Springs up 35-7.

After sophomore Matthew Cook picked up off a Capps pass at the Panther 13, Heber Springs marched 87 yards in nine plays as Nelson scored from five yards out with 4:14 to play in the third quarter. That score invoked the Arkansas Activities Association 35-point Mercy Rule which meant the clock would continuously run for the rest of the game.

Heber Springs will travel to Southside Batesville this week to tangle with the Southerners.

“When this game was over, I told them great job and it’s Southside week now,” Gowen said. “Last time we went there, they beat us and kept us from an outright conference championship.

“Last year, (they came here and) we kept them from being undefeated. They are going to be out for us.”

TEAM STATS

First Downs: Heber Springs 19, Bald Knob 16

Third-Downs: Heber Springs 2-8, Bald Knob 4-10

Fourth-Downs: Heber Springs 3-4, Bald Knob 1-1

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 32-225-7, Bald Knob 25-133-5.3

Passing Comp.-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 17-21 232 0, Bald Knob 11-23 100 2

Total Offense: Heber Springs 452, Bald Knob 233

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 0-0, Bald Knob 1-5

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 6-50, Bald Knob 3-24

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 2-0, Bald Knob 1-1

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 1-28, Bald Knob 4-29.5

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing: Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 18-127-3, Levy Phillips 6-27, Dalton Hall 5-40-1, Adam Martin 2-14-1, Rocky Finney 1-17. Bald Knob, Josh Clark 8-47, Johnson Capps 6-30, Michael Wingo 5-29, Blain Willard 4-23, Tyrese Dinwiddie 2-4.

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin, 17-21 232 0-0. Bald Knob, Johnson Capps 11-23 100 2-2.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 7-157, Blaze Nelson 5-8, Dalton Hall 3-41, Fate Berry 1-22, Matthew Cook 1-4. Bald Knob, Eli Mean 5-74-1, Blain Willard 3-7, Colton Collins 2-13-1, Josh Clark 1-6.

Panthers run free on Mustang Mountain, crush CAC

October 5, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Heber Springs scored 42 unanswered points and cruised to 52-21 victory over Central Arkansas Christian in 4A-2 conference play Friday.

The Panthers trailed 14-10 with just over four minutes to play in the first half before junior quarterback Adam Martin connected with senior Rocky Finney for a 39-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up, 17-14. Heber Springs (2-4, 2-1 in the 4A-2) added another touchdown late in the first half and then scored on it’s four possessions of the second half to claim the win.

The 52 points were the most scored by a Panther team since Sept. 16, 2016, when Heber Springs defeated Stuttgart, 56-29.

Senior Blaze Nelson paced the Panthers with 180 yards rushing and four touchdowns as Heber Springs finished the night with 326 yards on the ground as team.

“I wouldn’t want to run behind any other line,” Nelson said. “They were great all night with the blocks.”

Coming into the contest, Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen, who improved to 3-1 as head coach against CAC, said he wanted to take away the Mustang running attack and make them one dimensional. 

CAC (3-3, 2-1) finished with 153 yards on the ground, with a majority of those yards coming on a fourth-quarter, 58-yard touchdown run by CAC’s Krishaun Watson.

“Their run game turned into screens (passes),” Gowen said. “So we did a pretty good job there. We knew if we kept forcing them have to make plays, we would have chances (at interceptions).” 

The Panther defense did take advantage of those chances as Finney picked off two Palmer Gilbrech pass attempts while Fate Berry added another interception.

“Those were big plays for us,” Gowen said.

Each interception led to a Panther touchdown with Finney’s first pick coming late in the first half with the Mustangs driving into Panther territory. After a 55-yard return, Nelson would run the ball into the end zone a few plays to put Heber Springs up 24-14 at the half.

The Panthers also picked up three CAC fumbles to finish the game with a season-high six takeaways.

Heber Springs returns to Panther Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday for Homecoming. The Panthers will face Bald Knob (3-3, 1-2), a 35-0 loser to Stuttgart last week.

QUICK START

The first of the six CAC turnovers came on the Mustangs first play from scrimmage as Dalton Hall stripped Watson of the football after a 10-yard run and Nelson pounced on it to give Heber Springs possession at the Mustang 48.

The Panthers first drive appeared to stall at the 41, but on fourth-and-3, Martin found Finney all alone for a 38-yard completion. 

“We saw some stuff (on film that) they were doing that we thought we could take advantage of,” Gowen said. “Rocky ran a great route, Adam found him and that got us down there. Then we scored.”

That score would come on the next play as Nelson punched it in from three yards out to put Heber Springs up, 7-0, after the Julian Cameron PAT, with 9:39 to play in the first quarter.

“I told our kids we have got to start early,” Gowen said. “We haven’t started early yet (all season).

“We come out and get a turnover on the first play, and offensively we haven’t clicked on the first drive all season, then we had to have a big play on fourth down.”

FORMER JUNIOR PANTHER 

Last season, Palmer Gilbrech was quarterbacking the Heber Springs Junior High team, but the sophomore transferred to CAC over the summer and he would lead his new team downfield on a 10-play, 74-yard drive to tie things up 7-7 with 5:10 left in the first quarter.

After connecting with Gentry Miller on a 31-yard completion to push the ball into Panther territory, CAC faced a fourth-and-9 when Finney broke up the third-down pass attempt by Gilbrech. But the sophomore used his legs for an 11-yard, first-down run, and three plays later connected with Brock Hendrix for a 19-yard score.

CHANGE OF FOOTBALLS

Neither team could hold onto the football to close out the first quarter.

Heber Springs went first. After a Hall 21-yard run had moved the ball to the CAC 38 at the 4:38 mark, the Panthers coughed it up on the next play.

Three plays later, the Mustangs would return the favor when Julio Rubio would fall on a loose football at the CAC 43 with 3:41 left in the first.

On the Panthers first play of the possession, they would again lose control of the pigskin as the Mustangs recovered it on their own 44.

After a 33-yard Gilbrech to Crews pass put the Mustangs deep in Panther territory, Nelson would recover the football for Heber Springs at the CAC 14 with 1:31 showing on the first quarter clock.

“Blaze continued to have a good night after I changed the footballs out,” Gowen said jokingly after the game. “I had slick footballs in there for those two possessions. That was my fault. I must have gave them the wrong footballs. 

“We changed that and got some sandpaper balls out.”

OLE, OLE, OLE

A large contingent of Heber Springs students made the trip to North Little Rock on Friday to follow the Panthers.

During the season, the group has used the popular soccer chant, “Ole, Ole, Ole,” to cheer on kicker Julian Cameron, who is also a member of the Panther soccer team, whenever he gets a chance to get kick.

On Heber Springs’ next possession, the students got their chance.

Nelson gained 26 yards on four carries to move the ball to the Panther 44.

Martin then connected with Hall for a 38-yard completion before the Heber Springs drive fizzled out at the Mustang 21.

Cameron came on and booted the 38-yarder through the uprights to give the Panthers a 10-7 advantage with 10:38 to play before the half.

“It’s always great to have that in your backpocket when you get inside the 30- to 25-yard line,” Gowen said. “I don’t want to settle for field goals often, but that puts us up right there.”

FOURTH-DOWN CONVERSIONS

The Mustangs responded with an 11-play, 70-yard drive to go up 17-14 with 6:54 to play in the half as Gilbrech connected with Miller for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The big play on the drive came when Gilbrech found Crews for a 24-yard, first-down pass completion on a fourth-and-6 play from the Panther 38.

Heber Springs’ did likewise on its next possession. Facing a fourth-and-2 from the Mustang 46, Nelson carried for seven yards before Martin found Finney for the 39-yard touchdown pass on the next play to put the Panthers up 17-14 with 4:06 to play in the second quarter.

The Panthers wouldn’t trail again.

PUSHING AND SHOVING

The Mustangs appeared ready to have an answer to Heber Springs’ score as they moved the ball into Panther territory.

But Finney stepped in front of a Gilbrech pass at the Panther 22 and raced to the Mustang 28 before things got a little touchy.

Both teams were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play continued on the Mustang sidelines as Fate Berry continued his block on the return. Those penalties offset each other, but the Mustangs were flagged an additional 15 yards after a player allegedly said something to an official.

“We had a big turnover there,” Gowen said. “Rocky steps in front of one, and Fate’s doing a great job blocking a kid (on the return). He kinda off blocks him over to the track and the kid didn’t like it.

“You never know with young kids, but Fate did a good job of keeping his cool. I just pulled him away just to let him know that we needed him stay in the game, and that we needed him next week too.”

A player ejection would have carried over to the next week.

That series of events seemed to fire-up the Panthers.

After an officials inadvertent whistle cost Nelson a nice gain on the first play from scrimmage, Martin connected with Finney to move the ball to the 2. Nelson would score on the next play to put Heber Springs up, 24-14 with 49 seconds left in the half.

SECOND-HALF STRONG

At halftime, Gowen told his team that they needed to “impose our will” on the first drive.

“We had a 10-point lead, and we could put a lot of pressure on them if we go down there and score,” he said. “If we go down and have a drive to stall or turn it over, then they go score then it’s a ballgame.”

Evidently the players were listening to their coach as the Panthers took to the ground.

Nelson picked up 17 on two carries to move the ball to the Panther 37. After a seven-yard run by Martin, Hall gained 27 to push it the Mustang 29 before Nelson would finish off the drive with a 29-yard run to put Heber Springs in control, 31-14, with 10:18 to play in the third quarter.

“We had a full house backfield with him,” Gowen said of Nelson. “He showed his speed, ran down the sideline and scored. He’s a special dude.”

ONE MORE CARRY

Nelson needs 71 more yards to top the thousand-yard rushing mark for the season, and if the football field had been longer Friday night, he might have gotten all of that on his last rushing attempt of the night.

After the Panther defense had forced the Mustangs to turn the ball over on downs with 7:24 left in the quarter at the Panther 35, Nelson ran to the left, made a defender miss, spun past two more defenders and then raced 65 yards to put Heber Springs up 38-14 at the 7:11 mark of the third.

“We were thinking we could come out and hit ‘em in the mouth,” Nelson said. “At that point, you could tell they were down on each other, they were tired and wore out.

“We just kept going.”

RUBIO TIME

After Berry picked-off a Gilbrech pass at the Panther 35, Martin found Nelson for a 13-yard gain on a screen pass before Hall carried two more times to move the ball to the Mustang 35.

From there, Julio Rubio got a chance to carry the football and five plays later he found paydirt for his first touchdown of the season on a 14-yard run with 1:22 to go in the third. Heber Springs led 45-14 at the point.

ONE-MORE PICK

Rocky Finney was not done. 

On the Mustangs’ ensuing possession, the senior stepped in front the Gilbrech pass attempt at the Panther 14 and raced 61 yards to put the ball deep in CAC territory at the 25.

“I just watched the quarterback,” Finney said. “I seen my guy in front of me, so I just focused on where he was and placed myself in the perfect position.”

Five plays later, sophomore Nicholas Hitchcock scored his first touchdown of his senior high career with a 3-yard run to make it 52-14 with 9:02 to play and invoking the Arkansas Activities Association 35-point mercy-rule, which meant a continuous running clock the rest of the contest. 

Senior Seth Dickeson connected on his first PAT kick of the season.

BIG NUMBERS

Heber Springs finished with 469 yards of total offense on the night as neither team attempted a punt.

Rocky Finney had 207 all-purpose yards on the night while Blaze Nelson finished with 192 yards of total offense.

“I haven’t been matching the intensity of my teammate, Blaze,” Finney said, “so I wanted to step up and contribute to the team as he does.”

Dalton Hall also finished over the century mark with 102 yards of total offense.

BY THE NUMBERS

TEAM

First Downs: Heber Springs 20, CAC 21

Third-Downs: Heber Springs 2-5, CAC 4-9

Fourth-Downs: Heber Springs 2-2, CAC 2-4

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 41-326-8, CAC 26-153-5.9

Passing Att.-Comp-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 6-9-143-0, CAC 20-32-247-3

Total Offense: Heber Springs 469, CAC 393

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 1-7, CAC 0-0

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 9-65, CAC 5-50

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 4-2, CAC 3-3

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 0-0, CAC 0-0

INDIVIDUAL

Rushing: Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 18-180-4, Julio Rubio 9-67-1, Dalton Hall 6-65, Nicholas Hitchcock 3-15-1, Adam Martin 3-7, Team 2-(-8). CAC, Krishaun Watson 11-108-1, Blake Smith 9-25-1, Palmer Gilbrech 6-20.

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 6-9 143 1-0. CAC, Palmer Gilbrech 20-31 247 1-3, Eli Garrison 0-1 0 0-0.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Rocky Finney 3-94-1, Dalton Hall 2-37, Blaze Nelson 1-12. CAC, Brock Hendrix 5-75-1, Seth Crews 5-72, Gentry Miller 4-48, Krishaun Watson 2-11, Garrett Overstreet 1-17, Eli Jenkins 1-14, Eli Garrison 1-8, Blake Smith 1-2.

Panther rally comes up three points short against Stuttgart

September 28, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

HEBER SPRINGS – Heber  Springs trailed by 16 or more points three different times in the third quarter, but it took Stuttgart killing the final 4:19 of the contest to hold off the Panthers and claim a 36-33 4A-2 victory Friday night at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs trailed, 36-19, when Dalton Hall broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run with 27.5 seconds left to play in the third quarter to make it 36-26.

After the Panther defense stopped the Ricebirds on a fourth-and-9 play on the Heber Springs 11 with 9:59 to play, Heber Springs would pull to within a field goal on an Adam Martin 10-yard touchdown run with 4:19 to go.

But Stuttgart (3-1, 2-0), picked up three first downs on its ensuing possession to kill the clock and preserve the victory.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how they played,” Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen said of his team.  “We made mistake after mistake, but we played so hard that we could make up for it.

“The offense played awful in the first half and that’s my fault. I didn’t get them ready to go. But in the second half, we made a few adjustments, the defense kept us in the game and we just didn’t do quite enough to get it done.”

The Panthers rushed for 221 yards on 35 attempts led Blaze Nelson’s 116 yards on 20 carries. Nelson finished with two touchdowns along with Martin, while Hall added another score to go with 54 yards on the ground.

Stuttgart’s David Walker did most of the damage for the Ricebirds. The senior finished with 111 yards rushing on 17 carries with three touchdowns and also added 96 yards on four receptions.

“He is a difference maker,” Gowen said of Walker. “A guy that can run like that, jump over people, at 240 pounds that just tough. Our young men, they just look so small compared to him but they just got after him all night long.”

Heber Springs fell to 1-4 overall with the loss and 1-1 in the conference. The Panthers will look to bounce back on Friday when they travel to Mustang Mountain in North Little Rock to tangle with Central Arkansas Christian. The Mustangs are 2-0 in conference play, joining Stuttgart as the only two remaining teams unbeaten in the 4A-2.

“We came up short, but we got after it, and that’s all I can ask them to do,” Gowen said. “We still have a lot of football left to go. We’ll get back to work and go see what we can do.”

SLOW START

It didn’t take long for Stuttgart to get on the board. The Ricebirds took the opening kickoff and moved the ball from their own 37 and jumped out on top, 7-0, with 9:26 left to playing in the opening quarter. A big two-play sequence did in the Panthers on the drive. On third-and-9 from the Heber Springs 47, Stuttgart quarterback Tim Johnson connected with Davion Grayham to push the ball to the Panther 24. On the next play, a personal foul penalty against the Panthers moved the ball to the Heber Springs 13 where Walker would take the next two carries before powering his way from the 1 to score.

On Heber Springs’ first possession of the contest, Nelson carried 12 yards to give the Panthers a first down. Three plays later, the Panthers picked up another first down on a third-and-4 play, but a fumble gave the ball back to the Ricebirds with 6:34 to play in the first quarter.

But the Panther defense stiffened, forcing a three-and-out and a Stuttgart punt from its own 45. Walker got off a nice kick for the Ricebirds and got a friendly roll. When it the ball finally stopped, it was on the Heber Springs 5.

BACKWARDS PASS

On the first play from scrimmage, Martin dropped back to the 1 and attempted to hook up with Rocky Finney in the end zone for a double pass, but the ball was off target and rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety to make it 9-0 Stuttgart with 5:19 to play.

Stuttgart took the free kick from the Panthers and put together an 11-play drive that put the ball on the Panther 18, but Johnson coughed up the football and Matthew Cook pounced on the ball for Heber Springs on its own 27 with 16 seconds left in the opening quarter.

MIRROR DRIVES

The two teams almost mirrored each other in the second quarter.

First it was the Panthers. Heber Springs moved the ball from its own 27 to the Stuttgart 26 as Martin connected with Tri Johnson first for a 16-yard completion and then three plays later with Nelson on a 14-yard strike. But the drive stalled and the Panthers turned the ball over on downs.

Stuttgart followed by getting a big pass play on second-and-25 from its own 11 as Johnson hit Walker for a short pass and Walker did the rest for a 45-yard gain. Fate Berry brought down Walker on a touchdown-saving tackle. The Ricebirds reached the Panther 22 before they too stalled and turned the ball over downs.

Both teams followed with three-and-out possessions and Heber Springs took over on its own 9 with 1:46 to play in the first half. On the first play of the drive, the Panthers coughed up the football and Walker recovered it for Stuttgart on the Heber Springs 2. Walker would then follow with a 2-yard run to make it 16-0 with 1:31 to go before halftime.

CHASING POINTS

Heber Springs would respond. After Finney picked up 19 yards on the ensuing return, the Panthers would get another big play from the senior. He caught a short pass from Martin, made a Ricebird defender miss and raced 44 yards before being run out of bounds at the Stuttgart 12. Four plays later, Martin would keep the ball and plunge in from the 3. The Panthers went for two, but were stopped and trailed 16-6 with 32.9 seconds left to play in the first half.

“We probably chased some points early that I shouldn’t have and been down one (near the end of the game), maybe go for two late,” Gowen said. “but it is what is.

“I can’t be more proud of these kids. These kids don’t quit. Panthers don’t quit.”

NOT LOOKING GOOD

The second half didn’t start off well for the Panthers.

First, the Stuttgart defense forced Heber Springs to a three-and-out on the Panthers first possession. Then, it was Walker again. After taking over near midfield after the punt, the senior ran through tacklers and raced 52 yards on the Ricebirds second play from scrimmage in the second half to give Stuttgart a 22-6 lead with 9:39 to play in the third. The kick attempt was no good for Stuttgart.

“PANTHERS DON’T QUIT”

Heber Springs took the kickoff from its own 38, marched down field and responded. On fourth-and-1 from the Panther 47, Martin kept the ball on quarterback sneak to move the chains. Back-to-back first downs followed for Heber Springs as Martin connected with Berry for an 11-yard gain and Nelson ran for 10 more yards. Two plays, Martin found Johnson for a 16-yard completion and Nelson finished off the drive with a 7-yard run with 7:09 to play in the quarter to make it 22-12. The two-point conversion was no good.

DOWN BY 17

The Ricebirds responded with a nice drive of their own. Taking over on its own 37, Stuttgart moved the ball to the Panther 11, thanks in part to a 33-yard run by Walker. On third-and-3 at the 11, Samuel Hilborn and Tanner Tillman held Quin Nelson to a two-yard gain to force a fourth-and-1. But Nelson would follow with an eight-yard run and then punch it into the end zone one play later to give Stuttgart a 29-12 advantage with 3:01 to play in the third.

WILD THREE MINUTES

It took the Panthers 23 seconds to respond to the Ricebirds. After a 30-yard kickoff return by Nelson, Heber Springs took over on its own 47. From there, Nelson showed he wasn’t finished taking the handoff and racing 47 yards for the score to make it 29-19 after the Julian Cameron PAT kick.

However, two plays and 16 seconds later, the Ricebirds were back up by 17 points. First Derrick Amos ran for 21 and then Johnson connected with Grayham for a 22-yard touchdown pass to make it 36-19 at the 2:22 mark of the third.

After a 15-yard kickoff return and a six-yard run by Nelson, Martin would connect with Johnson for seven yards and a first down. Two plays later, Hall would take the ball, find a seam and outrace a pair of Ricebird defenders to make a 36-26 game with 27.5 seconds left to play in the quarter.

BIG DRIVE, BIG HIT

After the Ricebirds turned the ball over on downs, Heber Springs took over on its own 11 with 9:59 to play. Martin would find Finney for a first-down catch before Nelson would carry the ball four straight times for 28 yards and a pair of first downs.

A penalty against the Panthers pushed the ball back five yards. Martin would then scramble for a 12-yard gain before stepping out of bounds, but a late hit against Stuttgart would tack on 15 more yards. Another personal foul penalty against the Ricebirds would push the ball to the Stuttgart 12. Two plays later, Martin would find paydirt after scrambling to his right, reversing  field to his left for the 10-yard touchdown run to make it 36-33 with 4:19 to play.

TIME KILLERS

The Panthers needed the ball back, but Stuttgart didn’t oblige. On first down, Walker was stopped for a one-yard loss by Berry and Hall. But on the next play, Johnson dumped a pass to Walker, who gained 28 yards and a first down.

Walker again did in Heber Springs on third-and-2 with a three-yard run and another first down.

Three plays later, and the Panthers out of timeouts, Walker carried for five more yards on a third-and-3 to seal the win for the Ricebirds.

BY THE NUMBERS

TEAM

First Downs: Heber Springs 19, Stuttgart 22

Third-Down Percentage: Heber Springs 4-8, Stuttgart 4-12

Fourth-Down Percentage: Heber Springs 1-2, Stuttgart 2-4

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 35-221-6.3, Stuttgart 48-191-4.0

Passing Att.-Comp.-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 11-18-147-0, Stuttgart 12-23-200-0

Total Offense: Heber Springs 368, Stuttgart 391

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 0-0, Stuttgart 0-0

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 5-35, Stuttgart 5-50

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 3-3, Stuttgart 2-1

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 2-27.5, Stuttgart 2-44.5

INDIVIDUAL

Rushing: Heber Springs – Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 20-116-2, Adam Martin 10-46-2, Dalton Hall 4-54-1, Landon Johnson 1-5. Stuttgart, David Walker 17-111-3, Quin Nelson 12-24-1, Derrick Amos 9-59, Tim Johnson 5-3, Team 3-(-14), Tyion Berry 1-7, Kobe Robinson 1-1.

Passing: Heber Springs – Adam Martin 11-17 147 0-0, Rocky Finney 0-1 0 0-0. Stuttgart: Tim Johnson 11-22 169 1-0, Mitchell Stovesand 1-1 31 0-0.

Receiving: Heber Springs – Tri Johnson 5-64, Rocky Finney 2-54, Blaze Nelson 1-14, Fate Berry 1-11, Dalton Hall 1-4, Matthew Cook 1-0. Stuttgart – David Walker 4-96, Davion Grayham 4-77-1, John Hoskyn 1-15, Quin Nelson 1-7, Rhett Bohanon 1-5, Derrick Amos 1-0.

Panther PostGame

Heber Springs falls to Lonoke to open conference play

The Heber Springs Panthers run on to the field against Lonoke Friday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

September 27, 2019

By PHILIP SEATON

HEBER SPRINGS – It wasn’t the start to conference play that Heber Springs had hoped for on Friday night at Panther Stadium as Lonoke came away with a 32-12 victory.

The loss dropped Heber Springs to 0-4 on the season for the first time since 2013 in Steve Janski’s final season at the helm. That was also the last time the Panthers had lost to the Jackrabbits until Friday night.

Heber Springs won the coin toss and elected to defer. The Panthers attempted an onside kick, but Lonoke recovered the ball. Lonoke reached the Panther 15 before settling on a 32-yard field goal by Diego Contraras to make it 3-0 with 9:03 left in the first quarter.

After a three-and-out by Heber Springs, Lonoke got the ball at the Panther 48, thanks in part to a 24-yard punt.

Lonoke’s Spencer Pepper connected with Anthony Parks for a 35-yard completion. Despite a block in the back penalty that cost the Rabbits 10 yards, two plays later Parks would race in from nine yards out with 7:34. After an offsides penalty on the PAT attempt, Lonoke went for two-points and converted to make it 11-0.

The teams traded possessions before the Panthers got on the board with an eight-play, 51-yard drive with 10:46 left in the half as Landon Johnson rambled in from the six (see video below). A bad snap on the PAT attempt left the score 11-6.

The two teams couldn’t muster much offense the rest of the quarter until Lonoke took over on its own 42 with 1:49 to play before the half. Five plays later, Pepper found Parks for a 35-yard scoring strike with 41.8 seconds left in the half to make it 18-6.

Disaster almost struck in the final seconds as the Panthers fumbled in the ensuing kickoff, but a 44-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the quarter was no good.

The Rabbits went up 25-6 with 8:44 left in the third as Pepper ran 25 yard for a score.

Heber Springs gave themselves hope with 3:55 left in the third when Adam Martin connected with tight end Fate Berry across the middle. Berry then raced 45 yards to make it 25-12. The PAT kick was no good. It was the Panthers first PAT kick miss since the 2016 season.

Heber Springs couldn’t muster any significant threat the rest of the way as Lonoke tacked on a touchdown with 4:59 to play.

NOTES

COIN TOSS: Randy Rainwater, c0-host of Drive-Time Sports on KABZ, 103.7 FM, in Little Rock, broadcast his 3 to 7 p.m. show on Friday from Panther Stadium as part of his Friday “Sonic Blast” series. Rainwater tossed the coin in pregame. The Panthers won the toss but failed to recover the onside-kick attempt.

Randy Rainwater

STATE RECORD: Though one does not currently exist in the Arkansas Activities Association’s State Record Book, Heber Springs has created one in the team category — most consecutive point after touchdown (PAT) kicks without miss. Julian Cameron started the streak in 2016 and continued until last season with 100 consecutive successful kicks (a career state record) before graduating. Graduated senior Seth Dickeson also connected on two kicks last season for the Panthers. This season, senior Jackson Harrod was perfect on his first 13 attempts before missing on a third-quarter kick to end the streak with 115 for the Panthers.

SCORING

Lonoke (1-0, 2-2)          11  7   7  7  - 32 
Heber Springs (0-1, 0-4)    0  6   6  0  - 12 
FIRST QUARTER 
Lonoke - Diego Contreras 32-yard field goal, 9:03 
Lonoke - Anthony Parks 9-yard run (Spencer Pepper to Chris Lucas pass), 7:34 
SECOND QUARTER 
Heber Springs - Landon Johnson 6-yard rn (Pass Failed), 10:46 
Lonoke - Pepper to Parks 35-yard pass (Contreras kick), 41.8 
THIRD QUARTER 
Lonoke - Pepper 25-yard run (Contreras kick), 8:44 
Heber Springs - Adam Martin to Fate Berry 45-yard pass (Kick failed), 3:55 
FOURTH QUARTER Lonoke - Pepper to Lucas 24-yard pass (Contreras kick), 4:59

TEAM STATS

First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 8, Lonoke 7
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 4, Lonoke 7
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 1, Lonoke 0
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 13, Lonoke 14
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/16, Lonoke 3/13
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/8, Lonoke 2/4 
Red-Zone Possessions: Heber Springs 1/2, Lonoke 3/4  
Time of Possession: Heber Springs 23:40, Lonoke 24:20
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 3/2, Lonoke 1/1 
Turnovers: Heber Springs 3, Lonoke 1 
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 0  
Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 9/41, Lonoke 11/95 
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 65/292/4.5, Lonoke 63/355/5.6 
Rushing: Heber Springs 36/170/4.7, Lonoke 46/188/4 
Passing: Heber Springs 11/29-122-1/1, Lonoke 10/17-167-2/0 
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 3/17, Lonoke 1/9
Punts: Heber Springs 4/159/39.8, Lonoke 4/145/36.3 
Punts Inside 20: Heber Springs 1, Lonoke 1 

INDIVIDUAL STATS

OFFENSE RUSHING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 15/68/4.5, Julio Rubio 15/56/3.7, Landon Johnson 6/46/7.7. Lonoke, Spencer Pepper 24/98/4.1, Anthony Parks 18/88/4.9, Team 2/(-13)/-6.5, Brayden Coble 2/15/7.5.  
RUSHING RUNS OF 30+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1).
RUSHING RUNS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (2). Lonoke, Spencer Pepper (1), Anthony Parks (1).
RUSHING RUNS OF 10+: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (2), Landon Johnson (2), Julio Rubio (1). Lonoke, Spencer Pepper (5), Anthony Parks (3), Bradyen Coble (1). 
PASSING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 11/29-122-1/1. Lonoke, Spencer Pepper 10/17-167-2/0. 
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 4/36, Fate Berry 3/70, Landon Johnson 2/6, Tri Johnson 1/9, Julio Rubio 1/1. Lonoke, Anthony Parks 5/114, Chris Lucas 2/24, Markiel White 2/15, Chaston Dockery 1/14. 
RECEPTIONS OF 40+: Heber Springs, Fate Berry (1)
RECEPTIONS OF 30+: Heber Springs, Fate Berry (1). Lonoke, Anthony Parks (2). 
RECEPTIONS OF 20+: Heber Springs, Fate Berry (2). Lonoke, Anthony Parks (3).
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 190, Julio Rubio 56, Landon Johnson 46. Lonoke, Spencer Pepper 265, Anthony Parks 88, Brayden Coble 15, Team (-13). 
PUNT RETURNS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1/3, Tri Johnson 1/(-3). Lonoke, Anthony Parks 1/11. 
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 2/32, Tri Johnson 1/16, Diego Rubio 1/13, Matthew Cook 1/10, Harley Bresnahan 1/6. Lonoke, Romel Rankin 1/34, Markiel White 1/9.
FUMBLE RETURNS: None 
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Lonoke, Riley Miller 1/30. 
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Julio Rubio 89, Fate Berry 70, Adam Martin 68, Landon Johnson 52, Nathan McKee 39, Tri Johnson 22, Diego Rubio 13, Matthew Cook 10, Harley Bresnahan 6. Lonoke, Anthony Parks 213, Spencer Pepper 98, Romel Rankin 34, Riley Miller 30, Chris Lucas 24, Markiel White 24, Brayden Coble 15, Chaston Dockery 14, Team (-13).
DEFENSE TACKLES (Shared/Solo/Total): Heber Springs, Fate Berry 12/3/15, Landon Johnson 5/3/8, Lawrence Baureis 5/2/7, Matthew Cook 6/1/7, Julio Rubio 5/1/6, Hunter Kent 3/3/6, Diego Rubio 1/3/4, Kaden Hughes 4/0/4, Harley Bresnahan 2/1/3, Nathan McKee 2/1/3, Tri Johnson 1/1/2, Dalton McCollum 2/0/2, Nathan Hitchcock 2/0/2, Jackson West 1/0/1. Lonoke, Dayton Smith 10/5/15, Chris Lucas 8/1/9, Brayden Coble 8/1/9, Dalynn Waits 8/0/8, Anderson Fletcher 5/1/6, Romel Rankin 1/4/5, John Lawson 4/1/5, Markiel White 0/3/3, Riley Miller 1/2/3, Tyler Davis 2/1/3, Carson Devinney 2/0/2, Anthony Parks 2/0/2, Spencer Pepper 0/1/1, Cody Garringer 0/1/1, Ayden Rowton 0/1/1.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs, Fate Berry 5, Landon Johnson 4, Diego Rubio 2, Kaden Hughes 2, Julio Rubio 1, Matthew Cook 1. Lonoke, Dayton Smith 2, John Lawson 2, Dalynn Waits 1.
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Fate Berry .5/9, Julio Rubio .5/9. Lonoke, John Lawson 2/10, Dalynn Waits 1/7.
INTERCEPTIONS: Lonoke, Riley Miller
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 1. Lonoke, Carson Devinney 1, Dalynn Waits 1. 
PUNTING: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 4/159/39.8. Lonoke, Peyton Lamb 2/75/37.5, Markiel White 2/70/35.
PUNTS INSIDE 20: Heber Springs, Adam Martin (1). Lonoke, Peyton Lamb (1). 
FIELD GOALS: Lonoke, Diego Contreras, Made: 32. Missed: 44, 43
Heber Springs’ Landon Johnson

Lonoke, elements can’t stop Heber Springs conference opener

September 21, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

LONOKE – It took two days and two trips to Lonoke, but the Heber Springs Panthers were finally able to claim a victory.

Lightning forced the postponement of the game on Friday night with Lonoke leading 14-7 with 11:14 to play in the third quarter. When play was resumed at 2 p.m. Saturday in a heavy downpour, Heber Springs scored 21 unanswered in the third quarter and the defense held on in the fourth as the Panthers claimed a 28-14 the win.

More importantly for coach Darren Gowen’s squad, the Panthers first win came in the 4A-2 conference opener for both schools.

The Panthers have only one nonconference victory in the past three seasons, but Heber Springs bounced back and has won a share of the 4A-2 conference crown each of the past two seasons.

“We are 1-0 in conference,” Gowen said after the win on Saturday. “I know I get a lot of flack for this, and nonconference games do matter, but they get us ready to play games like this (conference games).”

Blaze Nelson finished the game with 75 yards rushing and two touchdowns while Adam Martin added 55 yards on the ground and another score.

Heber Springs (1-3, 1-0) finished with 246 yards of total offense in the contest while Lonoke (1-3, 0-1) had 199. But in the third quarter, the Panthers held the Jackrabbits to minus-6 rushing yards on 16 attempts, and 16 rushing yards on 24 attempts in the second half.

“The defense made some adjustments at halftime, and a little bit overnight, and they played lights out,” Gowen said. “Dalton Hall really got after it, and Fate (Berry) and Julio (Rubio) were the three without watching any film that really stood out to me.”

Heber Springs will return to Panther Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m. when they face conference favorite Stuttgart. The Ricebirds defeated Southside Batesville, 35-15, Friday night.

SLOW START

After Lonoke recovered the Panthers onside-kick attempt on their own 42, it didn’t take long for the Jackrabitts to hop into the end zone. On the first play from scrimmage, Lonoke quarterback Braidon Bryant took the ball on a keeper, got a couple of good blocks downfield and raced untouched 58 yards to give Lonoke at 7-0 advantage just 12 seconds into the contest.

Disaster struck for Heber Springs on the ensuing kickoff as Lonoke attempted and recovered an onside kick at the Panther 44.

“I thought we came out a little flat on Friday night,” Gowen said. “I don’t know anything sometimes. I told my guys Friday, we need to stay in as much routine as possible.

“We get here and play flat, and then today (Saturday) there is no routine … we come out and play like that. I guess routine doesn’t matter as much anymore like it used to back when I was playing.”

RUBIO FORCES FUMBLE

The Jackrabbits had reached the Panther 36 before Rubio forced a fumble that Hall recovered for Heber Springs at the 9:22 mark of the first quarter to give the Panthers their first possession of the contest.

After relying on the running game for the most part during the nonconference, the Panthers first possession was nothing but the hurry-up passing game. Adam Martin connected with Matthew Cook on an 11-yard pass completion after three Lonoke defenders tipped the ball into Cook’s arms. That play moved the ball into Jackrabbit territory at the 43.

A 12-yard pass completion from Martin to Seth Dickeson was good enough for anther Panther first down at the Lonoke 24.

The drive appeared to stall at the Lonoke 18 on fourth down after false penalty cost the Heber Springs five yards on a fourth-and-4 play attempt. But on the next play, Martin found Cook up the middle for the 23-yard scoring strike. Julian Cameron’s PAT kick made it 7-7 with 6:58 to play in the quarter.

COSTLY TURNOVER

The team traded possessions before Lonoke recovered a Panther fumble at the Heber Springs 22 late in the quarter. Three plays later, and on the first play of the second quarter, Davonta Adams rushed 11 yards to give the Jackrabbits a 14-7 advantage.

SCORING CHANCE

The teams again traded possession before the Panther defense forced Lonoke to a three-and-out from their own 10. A 25-yard punt gave Heber Springs excellent field position at the Jackrabbit 35 with 2:37 left in the half.
On third-and-5, Rocky Finney carried for 10-yard gain on an end-around play, but the drive fizzled at the Lonoke 20 forcing a 37-yard field-goal attempt by Cameron with 38 seconds left in the half. Cameron’s kick sailed right and the Jackrabbits killed the clock to end the half.

BREWING STORM

The forecasters had called for rain on Friday and all weekend, and though the radar was ominous in the first half the rain held off for the most part. At halftime, lightning could be seen at a distance after both bands performed, but it was not close enough (10 miles within the stadium) to stop the start of the second half.

So the third quarter kicked off with the Panthers recovering the onside-kick attempt on their own 48. After a seven-yard run by Nelson, Martin connected with Finney on an apparent 30-yard pass completion, but an illegal-man downfield penalty wiped out the completion and the gain. However, Finney was hit out of bounds giving the Panthers a first-and-10 from the Lonoke 35 with 11:14 to play in the third.

A lightning strike was close enough after that play to suspend the game as Lonoke headed to its lockerroom and the Panthers to a safe room in the school. The rain soon followed as the game continued to be delayed for just over an hour.

Finally, officials, coaches and administrators met at midfield after attempting to re-start the game and determined to postpone it until Saturday.

For Gowen, he wanted to continue to play, “I thought we had the momentum and we were fixing to do this (on Saturday).”

DOING THIS

For the first time in school history, the Panthers played in a game that was started on one day and finished on the next.

Play resumed on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a heavy downpour with the Panthers taking over on the Lonoke 35. A first-down run by Martin for 10 yards on the third play was followed by a 15-yard run by Nelson to push the ball to the Lonoke 5. From there, Martin carried it over with 8:29 left in the quarter to tie things up at 14-all.

“Just proud that we continued that momentum (from Friday night),” McGowen said. “I could tell in the lockerrom just sitting around waiting that they were ready to go play, and they were excited.

“We came out just about 20 minutes before the game started and the energy was just incredible.”

KEEPING IT GOING

The two teams traded possessions before Lonoke took over on its own 22 with 5:39 to play in the third quarter. After Adams carried for a two-yard gain, Nelson forced a fumble and the Panthers recovered it on the 24.

On the first play, Nelson ran into a pile of Lonoke defenders spun free and raced 24 yards to give Heber Springs its first lead of the game at 21-14.

“When you’ve got a back like Blaze, you (offensive line) just have to get in their way in a little bit and he’s going to make things happen,” Gowen said. “Our offensive line does a good job of continuing their blocks, and he just stays there and keeps moving.

“He’s got such great vision. He just spins off it and uses his incredible speed.”

HIGH SNAP

The Panther defense forced at three-and-out on the Lonoke’s ensuing possession before Heber Springs caught another break in the driving rain. A high snap on the punt attempt from the Lonoke 24 was recovered by the punter, but the Panthers were in business again from the Jackrabbit 9.

Two players later, Martin walked into the end zone untouched with 3:31 to play in the third quarter. Julian Cameron added the PAT kick and the Panthers led 28-14.

“Adam did a great job holding and Julian kicking in these conditions,” Gowen said. “We were three-for-three on extra points in this nasty weather, and one of those was almost off the ground and he still made it. That’s an awesome weapon to have.”

HOLDING ON

The Panther offense took advantage of opportunities in the third quarter to scored 21 unanswered points.

But after that, it was the Panther defense that held Lonoke out of the end zone.

Lonoke had moved to the Panther 36 late in the third quarter before Rubio sacked Bryant for a 13-yard loss on third down forcing a punt.

After a Panther turnover on the ensuing play gave the Jackrabbits the ball at the Panther 29, the defense again rose to the occasion forcing a turnover on downs highlighted by Berry and Cook bringing down Bryant for a five-yard loss on a third-and-5 play.

Heber Springs went three-and-out before Lonoke marched from their own 30 the Panther 24, thanks in part to a 30-yard pass completion from Dayton Smith to Shawn Lake. But a fourth-down pass attempt by Smith was broken up by Berry giving the Panthers the ball back with 5:03 to play.

Hall carried the ball for Heber Springs as the Panthers moved from their own 24 to the 48, but the drive would stall forcing a Martin punt.

BIG PICK

After a Lonoke moved into Panther territory with 1:22 to play, Smith heaved a pass into the end zone that Landon Johnson took away from the receiver to come up with the interception. The interception preserved the Panthers 14-win, giving Heber Springs 13 conference points (points used to determine tie-breakers in postseason seeding).

“I don’t know if you would call that a pick or whatever, because he just took the ball away as he was coming down,” Gowen said, “so that was a great job.”

BY THE NUMBERS
TEAM

First Downs: Heber Springs 12, Lonoke 12
Third-Down Percentage: Heber Springs 4-14, Lonoke 1-12
Fourth-Down Percentage: Heber Springs 1-2, Lonoke 1-4
Rushing Att-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 40-154-3.9; Lonoke 43-136-3.2
Passing Comp-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 10-20-92-0; Lonoke 5-12-76-1
Total Offense: Heber Springs 246, Lonoke 199
Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 1-13, Lonoke 0-0
Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 6-55, Lonoke 7-55
Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 3-2, Lonoke 3-2
Punts-Avg: Heber Springs 6-31, Lonoke 6-28.7
INDIVIDUAL
Rushing: Heber Springs – Blaze Nelson 23-75-2, Adam Martin 10-55-1, Dalton Hall 4-24, Team 2-(-10), Rocky Finney 1-10. Lonoke – Davonta Adams 19-36-1, Anthony Parks 10-18, Braidon Bryant 9-81-1, Dayton Smith 2-1, Shawn Lake 1-10, Brayden Coble 1-8, Team 1-(-15).
Passing: Heber Springs – Adam Martin 10-20-92-1-0. Lonoke – Braidon Bryant 3-6-27-0-0, Dayton Smith 2-6-49-0-1.
Receiving: Heber Springs – Matthew Cook 2-38-1, Tri Johnson 2-20, Seth Dickeson 2-16, Rocky Finney 2-9, Blaze Nelson 2-9. Lonoke – Davonta Adams 2-12, Shawn Lake 1-28, Dalton Smith 1-21, Anthony Parks 1-15.

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

By PHILIP SEATON

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.

GAME NOTES

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.

HEBER SPRINGS COACH WILL COX

SCORING

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

FIRST QUARTER
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
SECOND QUARTER
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)
THIRD QUARTER
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
FOURTH QUARTER
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

TEAM STATS

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

INDIVIDUAL STATS

OFFENSE
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.
PUNT RETURNS: None
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. 
FUMBLE RETURNS: None
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.
DEFENSE
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

VIDEO SCENES FROM THE SIDELINES

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

PHOTO GAME SCENES