Junior Panthers fall in final minute, finish 6-3

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Heber Springs quarterback Liam Buffalo breaks free from a Clinton defender and heads to the end zone Thursday night. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

CLINTON – Liam Buffalo finished with 246 yards of total offense but it was not enough as Clinton claimed a 24-22, 2-4A victory Thursday night.

Heber Springs finished the season with a 6-3 overall record and a 4-2 record in the 2-4A, a third-place finish.

Clinton took the opening kick and drove 57-yards on five plays capped by a Rylan Jones 23-yard run. Zack Hunt-Gonzalez added the 2-point conversion at the 5:51 mark.

Buffalo, who ran 19 times for 144 yards on the night, actually scored three times on the Panthers first possession with his third counting on 25-yard run. The ninth-grader had 50- and 12-yard touchdown runs called back with holding penalties. Buffalo completed the conversion pass to Weston Warden to tie things up at 8-8 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.

The Yellowjackets responded with a time-consuming 12-play, 65-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the first-half clock. Quarterback Brodie Dufrene capped the possession with a 2-yard run. Hunt-Gonzalez’ 2-point run made it 16-8 in favor of Clinton with 5:31 left in the half.

The two teams traded possession as the Panthers failed to convert on a fourth-and-13 play from the Clinton 47 while the Yellowjackets reached the Panther 25 right before the half — a 42-yard field goal attempt was no good.

Buffalo connected with Warden for 15-yard pass completion on the final play of the first half.

Heber Springs took the second-half kickoff as Buffalo ran three times for 33 yards to put the ball on the Clinton 33. Cooper Holmes ran for 6 before Buffalo scored on an 11-yard run. The 2-point pass attempt was no good as Clinton still led 16-14 at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter.

The Yellowjackets reached the Panther 24 on their next drive but the Heber Springs defense forced an incomplete pass on fourth down. From there, the Panthers would take the lead on an 11-play, 76-yard drive as Buffalo made an underhand pass to Holmes for a 1-yard touchdown. The big play on the drive was a 36-yard reception by Warden. Warden also caught the 2-point conversion to make it 22-18 with 7:01 left.

The Panther defense forced its only four-and-out of the night on Clinton’s next possession as pass attempt by Dufrene fell short for the Yellowjackets at the Clinton 47 with 5:40 left.

Heber Springs moved the ball to the Clinton 40 and fourth-and-3, Buffalo picked up five yards on the ground for a first down with just over three minutes to play. But the drive would fizzle following an incomplete pass, a run for no gain, a three-yard reception by Carter Julian and an incomplete pass on fourth down at the Clinton 32.

The Yellowjackets, with three timeouts, took over with 2:36 to play. A 16-yard run by Rope Williams gave Clinton a first down on their own 48. Four more running plays, including another first down, moved the ball to the Panther 32. On third-and-4, Dufrene pitched to Brayson Littell who hit Jones for a 32-yard touchdown pass to tie things up at 22-all with 51 seconds left. Jones would score the go-ahead points on the 2-point conversion make it 24-22.

The Panthers picked up a first down on a 12-yard reception by Warden, but three straight incomplete passes left Heber Springs with one final play. Buffalo hit Logan Rutledge, who only managed nine yards, before being brought down as the clock expired.

Warden finished the night with four receptions for 65 yards as Buffalo completed 10 passes for 102 yards.

HEBER SPRINGS AT CLINTON
OCTOBER 28, 2021 
Clinton                   8   8   0   8 - 24
Heber Springs             8   0   6   8 - 22
FIRST QUARTER 
C - Rylan Jones 23-yard run (Zack Hunt-Gonzalez run), 5:51
HS - Liam Buffalo 25-yard run (Buffalo to Weston Warden pass), 3:35
SECOND QUARTER 
C - Brodie Dufrene 2-yard run (Hunt-Gonzalez run), 5:31
THIRD QUARTER
HS - Buffalo 11-yard run (pass failed), 6:31
FOURTH QUARTER 
HS - Buffalo to Cooper Holmes 1-yard pass (Buffalo to Warden), 7:01
C - Brayson Littell to Jones (Jones run), :51
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HS 14, C 13
RUSHES-YARDS: HS 25/164, C 34/219
PASSING YARDS: HS 102, C 42
TOTAL OFFENSE: HS 266, C 261
COMP-ATT-INT: HS 10-21-0, C 2-9-0
FUMBLES: HS 0, C 0
PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 4/33, C 3/15
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 0, C 0
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Liam Buffalo 19/144, Cooper Holmes 3/16, Carter Julian 1/4, Weston Warden 2/0. C, Rylan Jones 13/103, Zack Hunt-Gonzalez 11/66, Colton Warren 1/22, Rope Williams 4/18, Brayson Littell 3/9, Brodie Dufrene 2/1.
PASSING: HS, Buffalo 10/21-102-1/0. C, Dufrene 0/7-0-0/0, Littell 2/2-42-0/0
RECEVING: HS, Warden 4/65, Logan Rutledge 2/25, Holmes 2/4, Ty West 1/11, Julian 1/3. C, Jones 2/42.
KICKOFF RETURNS: HS, Rutledge 1/(-1). C, Holmes 1/24, Dufrene 1/16.
PUNT RETURNS: None
INT RETURNS: None
FUMBLE RETURNS: None
PUNTS: None

HEBER SPRINGS JUNIOR HIGH SCHEDULE

(Final Record: 6-3)

Aug. 26 – Heber Springs 32, Clinton 28

Sep. 09 – Harding Academy 36, Heber Springs 16

Sep. 16 – Heber Springs 26, Dover 12

Sep. 23 – Heber Springs 34, Lonoke 12 *

Sep. 28 – Heber Springs 42, Stuttgart 32 *

Oct. 07 – Central Arkansas Christian 30, Heber Springs 14 *

Oct. 14 – Heber Springs 26, Bald Knob 8 *

Oct. 21 – Heber Springs 22, Southside Batesville 14 *

Oct. 28 – Clinton 24, Heber Springs 22 *

(* – Denotes Conference Contest)

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