Panthers fall in opener to Wildcats

Heber Springs sophomore Parker Brown breaks free from a Harding Academy tackle attempt on his way to 57-yard, third-quarter touchdown run Friday night at Panther Stadium. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Harding Academy scored on 6-of-7 first-half possessions and defeated the Heber Springs Panthers 42-7 at Panther Stadium Friday.

The Wildcats started their first five possessions in Heber Springs territory, a long touchdown on their sixth and took a knee heading into the half.

Harding Academy held the Panthers to 156 yards of offense, with 99 yards coming during the second half.

Heber Springs avoided a shutout on a four-play, 80-yard drive following the second-half kickoff.

“Harding (Academy) was really good and that’s why they are two-time defending (Class 3A) state champions,” Panther coach Todd Wood said. “We knew defense was their strength. The players learned a lot of things that will help during conference play. I’m very proud of this team. I never saw anyone quit, and they kept fighting until the end of the game.”

Heber Springs quarterback Xander Lindley completed 5-of-10 passes for 24 yards and rushed 11 times for six yards, including sacks, in his first start.

“It was Xander’s first game at quarterback since the eighth grade,” Wood said. “He was going against an  experienced defense. A quarterback will face adversity when playing against a defense of that caliber. He kept his head up and had faith in himself while learning.”

Brown rushed 13 times for 108 yards and scored one touchdown in his first start at running back.

“Parker never quit or backed down,” Wood said. “He will have great games in the future. We need to get him the ball more in the open field.”

Harding Academy began the game by driving 48 yards on 10 plays for its first touchdown. Quarterback Kade Smith finished the drive by scoring on an 8-yard keeper with 8:25 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats held Heber Springs on downs at the Panther 28-yard line and didn’t wait long to put more points on the scoreboard. Landon Koch caught a scoring pass from Smith with 6:24 to go in the first quarter.

Harding Academy concluded the quarter by capitalizing on a Heber Springs fumble at the Panther 26-yard line. Two plays later, Smith ran 20 yards for a touchdown, giving the Wildcats a 21-0 lead going into the second quarter.

Harding Academy increased its lead on a six-play, 28-yard drive. Smith connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Fox with 9:59 left in the first half.

Smith and Fox hooked up on the next Wildcat possession. Harding Academy took advantage of a short punt and started its next series at the Heber Springs 32-yard line.

Fox caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Smith for a 35-0 lead with 7:06 to go until halftime.

The Wildcats reached the end zone one more time when Andrew Miller broke away on an 85-yard touchdown run with 2:38 left in the first half.

Kyle Ferrie kicked all of the extra points as Harding Academy led 42-0 at halftime.

“I challenged them before the game to continue fighting regardless of the score,” Wood said. “I told them at halftime that I knew we were down, but we need to keep fighting and learning, and they did that. we were going against backups, but we still had the effort and showed the ability to turn up our game during the second half.”

On the opening series of the second half, Brown rushed twice for 11 yards for a first down at the Harding Academy 31-yard line. Gus Hannah caught a 13-yard pass from Lindley and a first down at the Wildcat 44-yard line.

Brown put the Panthers on the scoreboard on a 56-yard run with 9:21 left in the third quarter. Gideon Tate kicked the extra point.

“We will be looking at Dover immediately and start the process of fixing things,” Wood said.

Heber Springs will conclude the nonconference schedule at Dover on Friday.

HARDING ACADEMY AT HEBER SPRINGS
SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 
Harding Academy (2-1)   21  21   0   0 - 42 
Heber Springs (0-1)      0   0   7   0 -  7 
FIRST QUARTER 
HA - Kade Smith 8-yard run (Kyle Ferrie kick), 8:25
HA - Andrew Miller to Landon Koch 28-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 6:29 
HA - Smith 22-yard run (Ferrie kick), 3:48
SECOND QUARTER 
HA - Smith to Jackson Fox 14-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 9:59
HA - Smith to Fox 11-yard pass (Ferrie kick), 6:50
HA - Miller 85-yard run (Ferrie kick), 2:38
THIRD QUARTER
HS - Parker Brown 57-yard run (Gideon Tate kick), 9:01
TEAM STATISTICS 
FIRST DOWNS: HA 14, HS 8
RUSHES-YARDS: HA 24/202, HS 29/132
PASSING YARDS: HA 132, HS 24
COMP-ATT-INT: HA 8-12-0, HS 6-13-0
FUMBLES: HA 0, HS 1
PENALITIES-YARDS: HA 9/75, HS 2/10
PUNTS-AVERAGE: HA 2/49.5, HS 5/22.4
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING: HS, Parker Brown 13/108, Gideon Tate 5/18, Xander Lindley 11/6. HA, Andrew Miller 13/161, Kade Smith 5/36, Jadyn White 1/11, Jack Citty 1/7, Lawson Brooks 1/(-1), Team 1/(-5), Jackson Fox 1/(-7). 
PASSING: HS, Xander Lindley 5/10-24-0/0, Easton Cusick 1/3-0-0/0. HA, Kade Smith 7/10-104-2/0, Andrew Miller 1/1-28-1/0, Jackson Fox 0/1-0-0/0.
RECEVING: HS, Gus Hannah 3/16, Kenan Sneed 1/7, Parker Brown 1/1, Dalton Yancey 1/0. HA, Landon Koch 2/55, Andrew Miller 1/29, Jackson Fox 2/25, Ryan Mcgaha 2/18, Luv Patel 1/15.
KICKOFF RETURNS: HA, Jackson Fox 1/12. 
PUNT RETURNS: None
PUNTS: HS, Xander Lindley 5/112/22.4. HA, Kyle Ferrie 2/99/49.5

Panthers open junior high season with convincing win

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

By PHILIP SEATON

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

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

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

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

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

Heber Springs quarterback Liam Buffalo. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Stats: Harding Academy at Heber Springs Junior High

HARDING ACADEMY AT HEBER SPRINGS
Junior High Football
September 10, 2020
at Panther Stadium

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

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

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