By PHILIP SEATON
Two big plays in a just over four-minute span cost the Heber Springs Junior Panthers a chance of a season-opening victory Thursday night at Panther Stadium.
Southside Batesville broke a 6-all halftime tie with a pair of late third-quarter and early fourth-quarters touchdowns to claim an 18-6 victory.
Heber Springs took the opening kick-off but couldn’t move the chains as Aiden Isom was stopped for a no gain on a fourth-and-4 play from the Panther 37.
The Panther defense appeared to have stiffened forcing a pair of short runs after Rhett Herring threw Southside’s Karsen McSpadden for a four-yard loss on first down. But with the Southerners facing a fourth-and-8 from the Heber Springs 35, Hanlee Cartmill got behind the Panther secondary and McSpadden connected with him for a 35-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed after Southside picked up three penalties on the attempt with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
Five straight fullback runs up the middle by Brody Loethen killed the rest of the first quarter and gave the Panthers a pair of first downs at the Southerner 42. But Heber Springs lost three yards over the next four plays forcing a turnover on downs.
The Southerners then drove to the Panther 17, before a high snap was recovered by Heber Springs’ Landon Brown.
The Panthers managed a first down on a seven-yard run by Landen Peterson, but a fourth-down run by Tanner Graham was stopped two-yards short with 2:03 left before the half.
Heber Springs got another chance before the break on the next play as another snap by Southerner was recovered by Cade Williams at the Southerner 30.
After a loss of a yard on first down, Isom broke free for a 31-yard touchdown run diving for the corner pylon to get the Panthers on the board with 1:07 left in the half. The 2-point conversion leaving the score at 6-all at the break.
The Southerners finished with 13 penalties on the night and on their first possession of the second half four flags frustrated a six-play drive that took 4:43 off the third-quarter clock. That drive only netted two yards and after a 13-yard punt, Heber Springs had the ball at the Southerner 30.
But on the first play of the drive, a Panther fumble was scooped up by Southside’s Cole Vaughn and returned 67 yards for a score with 3:01 left in the stanza. The 2-point conversion was again stopped by the Heber Springs defense.
The Panthers managed a pair of first downs pushing into Southerner territory, but Josiah Riggs was stopped a yard short on fourth down on the first play of the fourth quarter.
On second down, Bryson VanWinkle broke free for a 64-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion was again stopped with 6:48 left.
Isom paced Heber Springs with 51 yards on nine carries and his 10-yard carry gave the Panthers their final first down of the night at the Southerner 33. Two plays later an interception ended Heber Springs’ hope of comeback as Southside killed the clock to end the game.
The start time of the game was pushed back due to an excessive heat warning and a seventh-grade game was changed to intra-squad scrimmage. The game was the first one on the new artificial playing surface that was installed this summer replacing the old turf.
Heber Springs will travel to Clinton Thursday night with a scheduled 6:30 p.m. kick-off. The Panther seventh-grade team will open their season at 5:30 p.m. against Clinton.
SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE AT HEBER SPRINGS
August 25, 2023
TIME OF POSSESSION: Heber Springs 16:25, Southside 15:35
TOTAL FIRST DOWNS: Heber Springs 7, Southside 7
BY RUSH: Heber Springs 6, Southside 6
BY PASS: Heber Springs 0, Southside 1
BY PENALTY: Heber Springs 1, Southside 0
TEAM RUSHING: Heber Springs 32/101/3.2, Southside 29/115/4.0
TEAM PASSING: Heber Springs 0/2-0-0/1, Southside 1/3-35-1/0
TOTAL OFFENSE: Heber Springs 34/101/3.0, Southside 32/150/4.7
3RD CONVERSION: Heber Springs 1/6, Southside 0/4
4TH CONVERSION: Heber Springs 0/4, Southside 1/2
TURNOVERS: Heber Springs 2, Southside 2
FUMBLES/LOST: Heber Springs 1/1, Southside 2/2
PENALTIES: Heber Springs 2/10, Southside 13/81
RETURNS: Heber Springs 2/10, Southside 3/93
PUNTS: Heber Springs 0/0, Southside 1/13
SACKS: Heber Springs 1/14, Southside 0/0
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Heber Springs 9/66, Southside 8/20
RUSHING: Heber Springs, Brody Loethen 11/27, Aiden Isom 9/51/1, Landen Peterson 4/2, Landon Brown 3/9, Josiah Riggs 3/13, Tanner Graham 2/(-1). Southside, Karsen McSpadden 10/49, Bryson VanWinkle 9/91/1, Jake Roberts 5/16, Korbin Foster 3/(-8), Team 2/(-33).
PASSING: Heber Springs, Landen Peterson 0/2-0-0/1. Southside, Karsen McSpadden 1/1-35-1/0, Korbin Foster 0/2-0-0/0
RECEIVING: Southside, Hanlee Cartmill 1/35/1.
KICKOFF RETURNS: Heber Springs, Rhett Herring 2/10. Southside, Juju Brooks 1/6.
FUMBLE RETURNS: Southside, Cole Vaughn 1/67/1.
INTERCEPTION RETURNS: Southside, Karsen McSpadden 1/20