Panthers clinch No. 2 seed with mercy-rule win in Searcy

October 26, 2018

By PHILIP SEATON

SEARCY – Heber Springs scored 42 unanswered points and cruised to a 42-6 4A-2 win over Riverview Friday night at Raider Stadium.

The Panthers fourth-straight win clinched Heber Springs (5-4, 5-1 in the 4A-2) the No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs and a home game in the first-round, most likely against Pocahontas.

“I am just proud of the kids,” Heber Springs coach Darren Gowen said. “We got out of here healthy and with a win, and guaranteed ourselves of a No. 2 seed and first-round playoff game at home and possibly more.”

Senior Blaze Nelson rushed 21 times for 151 and three touchdowns while junior quarterback Adam Martin completed six of 14 passes for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Panthers.

“Blaze had another great night and Adam threw the ball very well,” Gowen said. “He finally let a couple of them go and we didn’t catch them like we should have, but he threw it well.”

Heber Springs’ defense had another good night limiting Riverview (2-7, 1-5) to 128 yards of total offense with only 28 of those coming the second half.

Coupled with the week 8 shutout of Southside Batesville, the six points allowed by the Panther defense are the fewest allowed in back-to-back weeks since 1990 when Heber Springs shutout Dardanelle in week three and beat Yellville-Summit, 7-6, in week four.

Despite the fast finish, it was a slow start for the Panthers.

A holding penalty on the Heber Springs’ first possession negated a 20-yard, first-down run by Nelson forcing a punt, while an illegal procedure penalty helped stall out the Panthers second possession late in the first quarter.

It would be the Raiders that would strike first on six-play, 63-yard drive capped off by a 36-yard touchdown reception by Cade Trickey from Griffin Miller with 11:51 to play in the half. A bad snap on the PAT attempt made the score 6-0 in favor of Riverview.

“We didn’t have a great week of practice and that leads to not playing well on Friday night,” Gowen said. “It’s tough when you win several games against teams that look better in terms of records and scores, and it’s hard for the kids to play at the same level they have been playing when they do that.

“It took us a while to get going, but we got there.”

It wouldn’t take Heber Springs long to “get going” after the Raiders’ took the lead, in fact only 51 seconds. Two plays after the Riverview touchdown, Martin would connect with Tri Johnson on a short screen pass and the junior would do the rest racing 50 yards to give the Panthers the lead at 7-6 after the Julian Cameron PAT kick.

Three plays later, the Panthers would get the ball back after Fate Berry sacked Miller for a 10-yard loss causing the senior to cough up the football. Senior Dalton Hall picked up the ball at the 20 and almost scored before being brought down at the 1. Nelson would punch it in on the next play to make it 14-6 with 9:57 to play in the half. Miller was injured on the sack and would not return for Riverview.

Heber Springs threatened again late in the half after Martin connected with Johnson on a 36-yard pass play to put the ball at the Raider 38. Four runs moved the ball to the Raider 19 with less than a minute to play, but three pass attempts came up short leaving the score 14-6 at the half.

“I thought the defense played,” Gowen said. “We almost had a scoop and score, their quarterback went out and that kind of hamstrung them a little bit in terms of what they could do but we also figured out what they were doing. 

“In the second half, we just came out and shut them down, and our offense was able to score.”

And score they did on all four second-half possessions.

The first one came with 7:03 to play in the third when Nelson scored on an 18-yard touchdown run to make it 21-6.

The next tally came with 1:34 to play in the quarter when Martin connected with senior Rocky Finney on a 39-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-6.

After the Panther defense forced a three-and-out, Heber Springs struck again this time on a 5-yard run by Nelson, his 22nd rushing touchdown of the season, to make it 35-6 with 9:26 to play in the contest.

Tanner Tillman recovered a Raider fumble on the Riverview 14 three plays later and Hall would follow with six straight runs. His 1-yard scoring run would invoke the Arkansas Activities Association 35-point Mercy Rule with 5:32 left to play.

Heber Springs will look to a secure a winning season Friday night at home against winless Little Rock Mills. Seniors will be honored before Friday night’s game.

BY THE NUMBERS

TEAM STATS

First Downs: Heber Springs 13, Riverview 8

Third-Downs: Heber Springs 3-9, Riverview 4-15

Fourth-Downs: Heber Springs 2-4, Riverview 1-2

Rushing Att.-Yards-Avg: Heber Springs 29-171-5.9, Riverview 45-70-1.6

Passing Comp.-Att-Yards-Int: Heber Springs 6-14 151 0, Riverview 6-7 55 0

Total Offense: Heber Springs 314, Riverview 125

Sacks-Yards: Heber Springs 1-10, Riverview 1-8

Penalties-Yards: Heber Springs 4-30, Riverview 4-25

Fumbles-Lost: Heber Springs 1-0, Riverview 4-2

Punts-Avg.: Heber Springs 1-40, Riverview 4-36

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing: Heber Springs, Blaze Nelson 21-151-3, Dalton Hall 6-19-1, Adam Martin 2-1, Riverview, Baylee Dillin 13-27, Griffin Miller 10-20, Landon Chandler 10-5, Santos Gutierrez 7-1, Xavier Duckett 3-20, Team 2-(-3). 

Passing: Heber Springs, Adam Martin 6-14 151 2-0. Riverview, Griffin Miller 4-4 54 1-0, Landon Chandler 2-2 1 0-0, Cade Trickey 0-1 0 0-0.

Receiving: Heber Springs, Tri Johnson 3-92-1, Rocky Finney 2-50-1, Matthew Cook 1-9. Riverview, Cade Trickey 3-40-1, Baylee Dillin 2-12, Carlos Munoz 1-3.

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