Panthers battle, fall to Jackrabbits

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


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

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

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

Heber Springs’ Matthew Cook. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

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

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

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

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

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

Wood said the defense had some good moments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

RUSHING: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 3/27, Nathan McKee 1/23, Diego Rubio 3/10, Isaac King 1/8, Matthew Cook 15/(-14), Team 1/(-36). Lonoke, Ja'coree Womack 20/115, Bradon Allen 23/74, Anthony Parks 3/27, Latrell Burnett 1/2, Landon Jones 3/(-2), Team 1/(-5).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 21/39-293-4/3, Hunter Kent 2/3-66-1/0. Lonoke, Bradon Allen 6/19-129-1/0
RECEIVING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 8/162, Hunter Kent 5/67, Isaac King 4/73, Diego Rubio 3/39, Matthew Cook 1/10, Gus Hannah 1/8, Kenan Sneed 1/(-1). Lonoke, Landon Jones 3/63, Chaston Dockery 1/35, Anthony Parks 1/23, Ja'coree Womack 1/8.   
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 279, Hunter Kent 93, Nathan McKee 23, Diego Rubio 10, Isaac King 8. Lonoke, Bradon Allen 203, Ja'coree Womack 115, Anthony Parks 27, Latrell Burnett 2, Landon Jones (-2).
PUNT RETURNS: Heber Springs, Hunter Kent 1/17  
KICK RETURNS: Heber Springs, Diego Rubio 3/30, Nathan McKee 2/22, Hunter Kent 1/34, Kenan Sneed 1/9. Lonoke, Romel Rankin 2/22, Latrell Burnett 1/7, Deon Campbell 1/0, Cody Amato 1/0.
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Lonoke, Anthony Parks 1/100, Deon Campbell 1/34 
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 207, Hunter Kent 145, Isaac King 81, Diego Rubio 79, Gus Hannah 8, Kenan Sneed 8, Matthew Cook (-4). Lonoke, Anthony Parks 150, Ja'coree Womack 123, Bradon Allen 74, Landon Jones 61, Chaston Dockery 35, Deon Campbell 34, Romel Rankin 22, Latrell Burnett 9
SCORING: Heber Springs, Nathan McKee 12, Diego Rubio 6, Isaac King 6, Hunter Kent 6, Gus Hannah 1 (1/1 XPA). Lonoke, Bradon Allen 18, Ja'coree Womack 12, Anthony Parks 8, Chaston Dockery 6, Tom Boatright 3 (3/4 XPA)
PUNTS/YARDS/AVERAGE/INSIDE THE 20: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook 2/63/31.5. Lonoke, Ayden Rowton 3/82/27.3
SACKS/YARDS LOST: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook .5/11, Hunter Kent .5/11. Lonoke, Latrell Burnett 1/9, Dalynn Waits 1/8, Seth Sherman 1/7.
Fumble Recoveries: Heber Springs, Matthew Cook, Chris Smith. Lonoke, Tayler Coffey, team 2.
Interceptions: Lonoke, Anthony Parks, Deon Campbell, Chaston Dockery.

GAMEDAY: Heber Springs opens conference play at Lonoke

Heber Springs’ Thad Bray and Diego Rubio bring down Dover’s Dawson Branch in action last week at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


Heber Springs lost to two of the state’s top-ranked 3A teams in non-conference, but that will not have an effect on the 2-4A Conference football opener Friday.

The Panthers (1-2) will start the chase for a conference championship at Lonoke (2-1). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“I told the team after last week’s game (a 42-6 win against Dover) we will start with a clean slate against Lonoke,” Heber Springs head coach Todd Wood said. “We used the non-conference games as a learning experience. Winning the conference title is our goal. It is a new season, and we hope to put things together like last week.”

Heber Springs broke out of its offensive slump. The Panthers more than doubled its total offense and committed no turnovers. Heber Springs had eight turnovers in the first two games.

Matthew Cook completed 16-of-22 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns in his first start at quarterback. Heber Springs rushed for 134 yards with six receivers catching passes.

“Scoring on our first drive gave us confidence,” Wood said. “Hopefully, it will grow and we keep improving. We challenged the players before the Dover game to execute better, and they did.”

Heber Springs sophomore Isaac King flips the ball to an official after scoring last week against Dover. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Wood said the decision to start Cook at quarterback was one of the keys to the success of the offense.

“Cook will get better at quarterback,” Wood said. “Matthew passes well, and he is also a good runner. Cook did a good job of throwing to more than one receiver.”

Wood also said the offensive linemen showed improvement.

“The line played better,” Wood said. “We did a better job of protecting the quarterback.”

Quarterback Spence Pepper and running back Ja’coree Womack lead Lonoke’s offense. The Jackrabbits played Newport even for three quarters before the Greyhounds pulled away by scoring four fourth-quarter touchdowns.

“Lonoke has a lot of good athletes and speed like Newport and Harding Academy,” Wood said. “We will be playing a well-coached team again. Playing those teams helped in preparing for this game.”

The defense also had its best performance. Dover gained 65 of its 110 yards on the final drive. Wood said lineman Thad Bray, inside linebacker Kenan Sneed, cornerback Easton Cusick and safety Conner Riddle led the way.

Wood said the defense is ready for the challenge against Lonoke.

“The quarterback is not only a good runner, but a good passer,” he said. “Lonoke tries to balance its offense between the run and pass. It is going to be a challenge for our defense. We must stop big plays, keep them contained and tackle well.”

“I am on the different end of this one. I don’t think it has hit me yet. Matter of fact, I had one of the coaches come up to me and whisper in my ear and say ‘congratulations on your first win’. It hasn’t hit me yet so when I walk off the field and think about that I have been doing this for 27 years and this is the first time. I’ve been a head baseball coach and been a part of some great teams in that situation, but I’ve always been an assistant coach for football so to finally get my opportunity to be out here and be the leader of a young group and to be able to get a win is something that about and you sit back and soak in the feelings. It’s a great night for everybody.”

Heber Springs coach Todd Wood after getting his first win as a head coach last week against Dover
  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Lonoke
  • Admission: $5
  • Radio/Streaming: 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.


  • Heber Springs 42, Dover 6
  • Central Arkansas Christian 32, Carlisle 6
  • Dardanelle 34, Clinton 14
  • Trumann 27, Southside Batesville 0
  • Valley View 56, Bald Knob 24
  • Newport 47, Lonoke 19
  • Stuttgart, Covid canceled with DeWitt
  • Little Rock Mills, bye


  • Heber Springs (1-2) at Lonoke (2-1)
  • Southside Batesville (1-2) at Stuttgart (2-0)
  • Bald Knob (2-1) at Little Rock Mills (1-2)
  • Central Arkansas Christian (3-0) at Clinton (0-3)

The Series: Lonoke leads the all-time series, 14-10

The two teams first meet in 1931, a 25-0 victory by the Jackrabbits in Lonoke. The schools would play eight times between 1931 and 1942 with the Panthers lone victory coming in 1933, 19-0. The two teams wouldn’t meet again for almost 50 years when the two schools were both part of the 5AA-North conference for the 1991-92 cycle with the Jackrabbits winning both of those conference contests. Fourteen years later in 2006, Heber Springs and Lonoke would again be placed in the same conference (the 4A-2). Since 2006, the Panthers have won nine out of 14 contests, including five straight in the series before Lonoke won last season.

Junior Panthers improve to 3-0 on season

Heber Springs’ Xander Lindley runs through a tackle attempt by a pair of Lonoke defenders on his way to a 37-yard touchdown Thursday at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


With Lonoke starting quarterback Bradon Allen moved up to the senior high team, the Heber Springs Junior Panthers took full advantage of his absence scoring 33 first-half points en route to a 40-6 victory over Lonoke Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

Heber Springs improved to 3-0 on the season, but more importantly opened 2-4A conference play with a victory.

“We had a great game,” Heber Springs coach James Ortiz said. “We were prepared. We watched a lot of film during the week. Our guys were focused. We were ready to win and that’s all there is to it.”

In Allen’s absence, the Panthers were able to limit Lonoke to 21 yards of total offense, including 1 of 4 passing for one yard.

Freshman Xander Lindley had a big night scoring three times and finishing with 166 all-purpose yards for Heber Springs.

Heber Springs’ Corbin Jones.

After Liam Buffalo opened the scoring for the Panthers with a 6-yard run to make it 6-0 with 5:12 left in the first quarter, Lindley would score the next three times Heber Springs had possession – a 27-yard run with 3.2 seconds left in the first, a 23-yard reception with 6:53 in the second and a 37-yard reception with 2:51 left in the half – as the Panthers built a 26-0 lead.

Lindley also had a hand in Heber Springs’ next score after he recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to give the Panthers the ball on the Lonoke 40. Three plays later, Weston Warden raced 31 yards to make it 33-0 (after the Gideon Tate PAT kick) with 2:07 left in the half.

Lonoke managed to get on the board late in the half on a seven-play, 61-yard drive that Tripp Sullivan capped off with a 1-yard run with no time left on the clock. Lonoke picked up it’s only first downs of the night on the drive with two those coming on runs and three coming on Panther penalties.

Heber Springs got on the board again on its first possession of the second half as Zachary Parker connected with Dalton Yancey on a 52-yard scoring pass to make it 40-6. Tate added the PAT.

Buffalo was effective on the night for the Panthers completing 11 of 15 pass attempts for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lindley caught five of the Buffalo offerings for 139 yards while Yancey added four receptions for 74 yards.

Warden paced Heber Springs on the ground with 56 yards while Tate rushed for 42 yards as the Panthers finished with 369 yards of total offense.

Heber Springs will travel to Stuttgart for a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday with the Ricebirds.

Heber Springs’ Gideon Tate runs with the ball in the second half. Also pictured, for Lonoke, Jackson Miller (26)


Lonoke            0   6   0   0 -  6 
Heber Springs    12  21   7   0 - 40 
Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 6-yard run (Pass failed), 5:12
Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 27-yard run (Pass failed), 3.2 
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Lindley 23-yard pass (Buffalo to Lindley pass), 6:53
Heber Springs, Buffalo to Lindley 37-yard pass (Pass failed), 2:51
Heber Springs, Weston Warden 31-yard run (Gideon Tate kick), 2:07
Lonoke, Tripp Sullivan 4-yard run (Pass failed), :00
Heber Springs, Zachary Parker to Dalton Yancey 52-yard pass (Tate kick), 5:08 

First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 6, Lonoke 2
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 9, Lonoke 0 
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 0, Lonoke 3
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 15, Lonoke 5
Penalties: Heber Springs 7/53, Lonoke 4/20
3rd-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 2/6, Lonoke 1/5
4th-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 3/4, Lonoke 0/0 
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 2/0, Lonoke 2/2
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 2/17, Lonoke 0/0
Total Offense: Heber Springs 369, Lonoke 21 
Rush/Yards/Avg: Heber Springs 22/147/6.7, Lonoke 16/20/1.3
Passing (A/C-Yards-TD/Int): Heber Springs 12/16-222-3/0, Lonoke 1/4-1-0/1
Punts: Heber Springs 0/0, Lonoke 4/145/36.3

Rushing: Heber Springs, Weston Warden 4/56, Gideon Tate 10/42, Xander Lindley 1/27, Parker Brown 1/8, Liam Buffalo 1/6, Jacob Golden 1/5, Ladd Choate 2/5, Hayden Johnson 1/4, Bryce Seigrist 1/(-6). Lonoke, Kemarcus Jones 1/18, Zhorion Gipson 6/14, Tripp Sullivan 9/(-12).
Passing: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 11/15-170-2/0, Zachary Parker 1/1-52-1/0. Lonoke, Tripp Sullivan 1/4-1-0/1.
Receiving: Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 5/139, Dalton Yancey 4/74, Weston Warden 2/3, Parker Brown 1/6. Lonoke, Zhorion Gipson 1/1.
Kickoff Returns: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 1/0. Lonoke, Kemarcus Jones 3/21, Tripp Sullivan 2/18, Alex Whiting 1/7, J.T. Stuart 1/1. 
Total Offense: Heber Springs, Liam Buffalo 176, Weston Warden 56, Zachary Parker 52, Gideon Tate 42, Xander Lindley 27, Parker Brown 8, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Hayden Johnson 4, Bryce Seigrist (-6). Lonoke, Kemarcus Jones 18, Zhorion Gipson 14, Tripp Sullivan (-11).
All-Purpose Yards: Heber Springs, Xander Lindley 166, Dalton Yancey 74, Weston Warden 59, Gideon Tate 42, Parker Brown 14, Liam Buffalo 6, Jacob Golden 5, Ladd Choate 5, Hayden Johnson 4, Bryce Seigrist (-6).
Sacks/Yards lost: Heber Springs, Hud Haggard 1/11, Parker Brown 1/6
Interceptions: Heber Springs, Logan Rutledge 1/0.
Fumble Recoveries: Ladd Choate, Xander Lindley. 
Punts: Lonoke, Tripp Sullvian 4/145/36.3 
Kicking: Heber Springs, Gideon Tate (2/2 XP) 

Heber Springs’ 7th-Graders move to 2-1

Heber Springs’ Jacob Haskett looks for running room as Lonoke’s Colton Trickey (21) gives chase during the Panthers 14-6 win on Thursday at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO


The Heber Springs seventh-grade football team improved to 2-1 on the season with a 14-6 victory over Lonoke Thursday night at Panther Stadium.

With a late start, the two teams played only one half of football.

Heber Springs’ Grady Turley. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs struck first as Gavin Widner scored on a 20-yard run with 15:08 to play to make it 6-0 in favor of the Panther Cubs. Emmett Dwyer connected with Cooper Holmes for the 2-point conversion.

After a Maddox Shumate interception gave the Panther Cubs the ball at the Lonoke 29, Eli Buffalo – playing in his first game of the season – rushed 18 yards to the Lonoke 11 before Jacob Haskett carried it over from there to make it 14-0 with 37 seconds left.

Lonoke added a score the buzzer as J.T. Stuart connected with Cameron Hooten for a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Heber Springs will be on the road Thursday when the Panther Cubs travel to Stuttgart.

Heber Springs’ Eli Buffalo looks upfield just out of reach of Lonoke’s Khalon Calhoun (14). PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Heber Springs hosts Lonoke in final home match

Heber Springs senior Cheyenne Kent waits for a serve during recent volleyball action against Clarksville. The Panthers will face Lonoke at 4:30 p.m. in their final home match. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

October 17, 2019

Heber Springs will host Lonoke tonight at the Panther Den in a key 4A-Central volleyball match.

The Panthers (9-13 overall) set at 6-6 in the conference after wins over Clarksville last week (25-22, 25-19, and 25-19) and Dover (25-18, 25-15 and 25-11), on Tuesday, while Lonoke is 5-6 in conference play. Heber Springs is a half-game ahead of the Jackrabbits in the race for the fourth and final spot to represent the conference in the state tournament.

Morrilton leads the conference with an 11-0 mark followed by Pulaski Academy at 10-2 and Joe T. Robinson at 8-4.

Lonoke swept Heber Springs (25-23, 25-11 and 25-23) on Sept. 24. After today’s match, the Panthers will travel to Morrilton to close out conference play on Tuesday, before finishing regular season play on Thursday at Conway St. Joseph in a nonconference match.

Lonoke (7-16-3) will close out conference play with Clarksville and Forrest City.

If Lonoke and Heber Springs are tied at the end of the regular season, the Panthers will need to sweep the Jackrabbits today to go to the second tiebreakers of point differentials.

In the victory over Clarksville on Oct. 8, the match was forced out of the Panther Den after an air-conditioning unit malfunctioned, according to school officials, causing the smoke alarms to be set off inside the gym three points into the first match of the senior high match. The smell of smoke could also could be detected in the hallway near the girls’ dressing room. The players and fans were evacuated until the Heber Springs fire department arrived. Out of precaution, the match was moved to the old gymnasium.

A member of the Heber Springs Fire Department inside the Panther Den on Oct. 8.

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


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.


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.


Lonoke (1-0, 2-2)          11  7   7  7  - 32 
Heber Springs (0-1, 0-4)    0  6   6  0  - 12 
Lonoke - Diego Contreras 32-yard field goal, 9:03 
Lonoke - Anthony Parks 9-yard run (Spencer Pepper to Chris Lucas pass), 7:34 
Heber Springs - Landon Johnson 6-yard rn (Pass Failed), 10:46 
Lonoke - Pepper to Parks 35-yard pass (Contreras kick), 41.8 
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


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 


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.
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

Panther GameDay

Heber Springs opens 4A-2 Conference play against Lonoke

  • 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.


Lonoke, elements can’t stop Panthers in 4A-2 opener


Heber Springs quarterback Adam Martin looks to avoid a Harding Academy tackler last week at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

Panthers fall in heartbreaker to Harding Academy

FOR LONOKE: First-year Lonoke coach Harry Wright got his first win last week as the Jackrabbits (1-2) rallied to down Newport, 49-40. The Jackrabbits trailed Newport, 34-21, in the third quarter before rallying to claim the win. Lonoke quarterback Spencer Pepper was 11 of 20 passing for 326 yards and four touchdowns, including a 91-yarder to Anthony Parks. Parks also rushed for 73 yards on 12 attempts while Pepper gained 48 yards on 17 carries.


  • Harding Academy 50, Heber Springs 49
  • Maumelle 47, Little Rock Mills 8
  • Haskell Harmony Grove 23, Bald Knob 0
  • Lonoke 49, Newport 40
  • Clinton 55, Central Arkansas Christian 21


  • Lonoke (1-2) at Heber Springs (0-3)
  • Stuttgart (0-3) at Southside Batesville (2-1)
  • Little Rock Mills (1-2) at Bald Knob (0-3)
  • Riverview (2-1) at Central Arkansas Christian (2-1)



The Series: Lonoke leads the all-time series, 13-10

The two teams first meet in 1931, a 25-0 victory by the Jackrabbits in Lonoke. The schools would play eight times between 1931 and 1942 with the Panthers lone victory coming in 1933, 19-0. The two teams wouldn’t meet again for almost 50 years when the two schools were both part of the 5AA-North conference for the 1991-92 cycle with the Jackrabbits winning both of those conference contests. Fourteen years later in 2006, Heber Springs and Lonoke would again be placed in the same conference (the 4A-2). Since 2006, the Panthers have won nine out of 13 contests, including five straight in the series.

SONIC BLAST: Randy Rainwater from KABZ 103.7 FM in Little Rock will be in Heber Springs broadcasting his statewide radio call-in show, “Drive-Time Sports” from 3 to 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium.

NONCONFERENCE WOES/CONFERENCE JOYS: Heber Springs has gone 1-11 in nonconference play the past four seasons, but are 22-6 in the 4A-2 over the same stretch, including a share of two conference titles and a second-place finish last season.

FIREWORKS: First Arkansas Bank and Trust has been sponsoring the Panther Stadium fireworks that are fired off after each Panther touchdown.

SAME RECORD/DIFFERENT YEAR: Last season, Heber Springs and Lonoke both entered conference play as the same records they sport this season, 0-3 for the Panthers and 1-2 for the Jackrabbits.



Heber Springs 28 14  7 48 -  97 (32.3)
Opponent      14 28 35 36 - 113 (37.7)

First Downs by Rush: Heber Springs 46, Opponent 28
First Downs by Pass: Heber Springs 18, Opponent 28
First Downs by Penalty: Heber Springs 1, Opponent 4
Total First Downs: Heber Springs 65, Opponent 61
Third-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 28/41 (68.3), Opponent 9/22 (40.9)
Fourth-Down Conversions: Heber Springs 7/10 (70), Opponent 1 /2 (50)
Red-Zone Conversions: Heber Springs 8/8 (8 tds), Opponent 11/12 (11 tds)
Fumbles/Lost: Heber Springs 5/4, Opponent 4/0
Turnovers: Heber Springs 7, Opponent 1
Points Off Turnovers: Heber Springs 7, Opponent 21
Penalties/Yards: Heber Springs 19/146, Opponent 15/116
Plays/Total Offense/YPP: Heber Springs 202/1340/6.6, Opponent 146/1035/7.1
Rushing: Heber Springs 153/872/5.7, Opponent 90/421/4.7
Rushing Per Game: Heber Springs 290.7, Opponent 140.3
Passing: Heber Springs 30/49-467-3/2, Opponent 43/68-594-8/1
Passing Per Game: Heber Springs 155.7, Opponent 198
Sacks/Yards Lost: Heber Springs 7/51, Opponent 6/24
Punts: Heber Springs 5/210/42, Opponent 9/301/33.4

RUSHING (ATT/YARDS/PER ATTEMPT/PER GAME/TDS): Adam Martin 70/397/5.7/132.3/2, Julio Rubio 67/341/5.1/113.7/7, Landon Johnson 20/76/3.8/25.3/2, Nathan McKee 1/6/6/2/0.
BIG CAT RUNS (50+): Adam, Martin 1, Julio Rubio 1
RUNS OF 40+: Adam Martin 1, Julio Rubio 1
RUNS OF 30+: Julio Rubio 2, Adam Martin 1
RUNS OF 20+: Adam Martin 4, Julio Rubio 3
RUNS OF 10+: Adam Martin 12, Julio Rubio 9, Landon Johnson 1.
100-YARD RUSHING GAMES: Adam Martin 3, Julio Rubio 2
PASSING (ATT/COMP-YARDS-TDS/INT): Adam Martin 30/49-467-3/2
250-YARD PASSING GAMES: Adam Martin 1
RECEIVING (REC/YARDS/PER CATCH/TDS): Julio Rubio 8/121/15.1, Matthew Cook 8/86/10.8, Hunter Kent 4/32/8, Nathan McKee 3/39/13/1, Fate Berry 3/30/10, Tri Johnson 3/141/47/2,  Landon Johnson 1/8/8
100-YARD RECEIVING GAMES: Tri Johnson 1, Julio Rubio 1
TOTAL OFFENSE (OFFENSE/PER GAME): Adam Martin 864/288, Julio Rubio 341/113.7, Landon Johnson 76/25.3, Nathan McKee 6/2
KICKOFF RETURNS: Hunter Kent 3/46/15.3, Matthew Cook 3/52/17.3, Tri Johnson 3/37/12.3, Levy Phillips 2/14/7, Julio Rubio 1/12/12, Nathan McKee 1/11/11, Jackson West 1/1, Tristan Thissen 1/0.
ALL-PURPOSE YARDS (YARDS/PER GAME): Julio Rubio 474/158, Adam Martin 397/132.3, Tri Johnson 178/89, Matthew Cook 138/46, Landon Johnson 84/28, Hunter Kent 78/26, Nathan McKee 56/18.7, Fate Berry 30/10, Levy Phillips 14/4.7, Dalton McCollum 4/1.3, Jackson West 1/.3
TACKLES (ASST/SOLO/TOTAL): Fate Berry 20/8/28, Levy Phillips 10/7/17, Landon Johnson 7/6/13, Kaden Hughes 6/5/11, Hunter Kent 5/5/10, Lawrence Baureis 4/6/10, Tri Johnson 5/4/9, Matthew Cook 6/2/8, Harley Bresnahan 4/2/6, Dalton McCollum 2/4/6, Jackson West 3/2/5, Nathan McKee 1/1/2, Trent Barnes 1/1/2, Preston Jones 1/1/2, Devon Doxey 2/0/2, Jackson Harrod 1/0/1, Tristan Thissen 0/1/1, Gus Hannah 1/0/1.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Landon Johnson 3.5, Fate Berry 3, Kaden Hughes 2.5, 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 2/ 18, Fate Berry 2/ 9
INTERCEPTIONS: Dalton McCollum 1
PUNTING (No./Yards/Avg./Inside20): Adam Martin 5/210/42/0
SCORING: Julio Rubio 54 (9 tds), Jackson Harrod 13 (13-13 PAT), Landon Johnson 12 (2 tds), Adam Martin 12 (2 td), Tri Johnson 12 (2 td), Nathan McKee 6 (1 td)





OFFENSE – Tri Johnson. DEFENSE – Dalton McCollum


OFFENSE – Harley Hannah. DEFENSE – Levy Phillips


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

Heber Springs’ Tri Johnson on the return after getting a block from teammate Dalton McCollum (19).


Junior Panthers fall to Lonoke


Panther Cubs remain unbeaten


  • Saturday, September 28 – Cross Country at Russellville
  • Saturday, September 28 – Volleyball at Hot Springs Lakeside Tournament
  • Monday, September 30 – 4A State Girls Golf at Harrison
  • Monday, September 30 – Volleyball vs. Conway Christian, 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 1 – 4A State Girls Golf at Harrison
  • Tuesday, October 1 – Tennis at 4A-4 at Clarksville
  • Tuesday, October 1 – Volleyball at Pulaski Academy, 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 2 – Tennis at 4A-4 at Clarksville
  • Thursday, October 3 – Volleyball at Forrest City, 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 3 – 7th-Football vs. Stuttgart, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 3 – Junior Football vs. Stuttgart, 7 p.m.

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Junior Panthers fall to Lonoke

September 26, 2019

Heber Springs’ Conner Riddle looks on as as coach Chase Roberts speaks during a timeout against Lonoke. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

LONOKE – The Heber Springs Junior Panthers dropped a 34-0 decision to Lonoke Thursday night.

Heber Springs (0-3) did threaten to score in the third quarter when quarterback Xander Lindley raced 50 yards before being tackled at the Lonoke 5, but a first-down penalty put the Panthers in a hole and they were not able to punch the ball into the end zone (video sequence below).

Heber Springs will play its home opener on Thursday when they host Stuttgart at 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium.

Panther Cubs remain unbeaten with win at Lonoke

September 26, 2019

Heber Springs’ Axley Davis breaks an attempted tackle from a Lonoke defender and looks up field in the Panthers 18-0 win over Lonoke on Thursday. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

LONOKE – The Heber Springs Seventh-Grade football team improved to 3-0 on the season with an 18-0 victory over Lonoke on Thursday.

The Panthers scored on the last play of the first half as Liam Buffalo connected with Bryce Seigrest for a 53-yard touchdown pass.

Heber Springs started the second half as the ended the first one as Buffalo found Ty West on the first play from scrimmage with a 70-yard touchdown pass.

The Panthers added another touchdown to set the score as Buffalo ran 41 yards for a score with 2:18 to play.

Heber Springs will play its home opener on Thursday when they host Stuttgart at Panther Stadium at 5:30 p.m.

Lonoke, elements can’t stop Heber Springs conference opener

September 21, 2018


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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).”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.


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.”


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
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.