By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY
DOVER – Heber Springs bounced back in a big way and will take momentum into next week’s 2-4A Conference football opener.
The Panthers (1-1) scored on four-of-six first-half possessions and the defense reached the end zone one in Friday’s 44-0 win against Dover (0-4) at Jack Berry Field.
Heber Springs added another touchdown and recorded a safety during the second half and held the Pirates to 23 yards of offense and four first downs. The Panthers had their first shutout since a 21-0 win at Southside Batesville on Oct. 19, 2018.
Sophomore quarterback Xander Lindley completed 12-of-18 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns in his second career start. Parker Brown, also a sophomore, caught three passes for 220 yards, all for touchdowns.
“Anytime you can play on the road and get a win it is good,” Heber Springs coach Todd Wood said. “It also is good to finish the nonconference with a win and take momentum into conference play. We had missed assignments, but overall we executed well.”
The Panthers spent all week on the short passing game, and it paid dividends.
“Dover didn’t have a lot of players on that side of the field,” Brown said. “I got good blocks and was able to get to the end zone. The receivers were blocking well.”
Wood said one of the objectives was to get the ball into Brown’s hands in the open field.
Parker is an explosive player,” Wood said. “But we have to get other players involved in the offense. We can’t rely just on him every game.”
Lindley credited the offensive line for giving him time to execute the passing game.
“I felt more comfortable than the first game,” Lindley said. “My linemen did the job. We worked on the short passes over and over all week in practice until we were able to get it right.”
Wood liked the progress of his quarterback.
“Lindley will gain conference every game,” he said. “He is looking more secure, and I expect him to improve every game.”
Despite the big offensive plays, defense had the play that changed the game late in the first quarter. Chris Edwards intercepted a Jon Greathouse pass and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown, when Heber Springs led 7-0.
“I backed up and saw the ball in the air,” Edwards said. “I just followed my teammates and scored the touchdown. I knew it was going to be a pass because of how they lined up before the play. I was afraid they were going to catch me from behind, but my buddies were blocking for me.”
Wood agreed that Edwards’ score was the game’s biggest play on defense.
“We had dropped two touchdown passes on our last offensive series, but the defense gave us a boost,” Wood said. “The interception helped to get us going. The defense played a fantastic game. That’s why it takes a team effort to win. Sometimes you need to score on the other side of the ball.”
Heber Springs needed only two plays before scoring after forcing a Dover punt following the opening kickoff. Lindley threw incomplete on first down before connecting on a short pass to Brown for a 51-yard touchdown with 8:59 left in the first quarter. Gideon Tate kicked the extra point for the 7-0 lead.
Edwards’ interception return late in the first quarter sent the Panthers into the second quarter with a 14-0 lead.
Heber Springs again utilized the big play and increased the lead to 21-0. Brown caught a pass at the 30-yard line and completed the 76-yard play for the touchdown with 8:01 left in the first half. Tate kicked for the conversion.
On the ensuing kickoff, Zane Lozeau recovered a fumble, giving the Panthers a first down at the Dover 14. Austin Winchester caught a touchdown pass on the next play. Tate kicked the extra point for the 28-0 lead.
Heber Springs reached the end zone one more time before halftime. The Panthers were backed up to their 7-yard line before Lindley threw a short pass to Brown, who ran through the Dover defense for a touchdown. Chandler Webber kicked the extra point for the 35-0 halftime lead.
Heber Springs started the second half by driving 72 yards on nine play, ending with a Lozeau’s 20-yard scoring run. Tate kicked the extra point.
A high snap over Greathouse’s head in punt formation resulted into a safety with 9:25 to play.
“It felt amazing to put 44 points on the board,” Lindley said. “I have confidence in my teammates. We have a lot of athleticism on this team; I believe we can go a long way this season.”
Wood reminded his team after the game that everything will start over Friday when the Panthers host Lonoke in the conference opener.
“We are zero and zero right now,” he said. “Anytime you can win, it builds confidence. All that matter is how we do in conference play. That will determine if we go to the playoffs.”
HEBER SPRINGS AT DOVER SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 Heber Springs (1-1) 14 21 7 2 - 44 Dover (0-4) 0 0 0 0 - 0 FIRST QUARTER HS - Xander Lindley to Parker Brown 51-yard pass (Gideon Tate kick), 8:59 HS - Chris Edwards 71-yard Interception return (Tate kick), 1:19 SECOND QUARTER HS - Lindley to Brown 76-yard pass (Tate kick), 8:01 HS - Lindley to Austin Winchester (Tate kick), 7:47 HS - Lindley to Brown 93-yard pass (Chandler Webber kick), 1:58 THIRD QUARTER HS - Zane Lozeau 20-yard run (Tate kick), 2:22 FOURTH QUARTER HS - Dafety, snap out of end zone, 7:34 TEAM STATISTICS FIRST DOWNS: HS 10, Dover 4 RUSHES-YARDS: HS 9/45, Dover 30/(-30) PASSING YARDS: HS 318, Dover 53 COMP-ATT-INT: HS 12-20-0, Dover 4-5-1 FUMBLES: HS 1, Dover 1 PENALITIES-YARDS: HS 9/62, Dover 6/52 PUNTS-AVERAGE: HS 0, Dover 5/27.2 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING: HS, Zane Lozeau 1/20, Xander Lindley 4/17, Gideon Tate 3/6, Parker Brown 1/2. Dover, Kenny Ketcherside 7/12, Jon Greathouse 18/5, Brantley Craig 2/(-7), Team 3/(-40) PASSING: HS, Xander Lindley 12/18-318-4/0, Easton Cusick 0/2-0-0/0. Dover, Jon Greathouse 4/5-53-0/1 RECEVING: HS, Easton Cusick 5/44, Parker Brown 3/220, Gus Hannah 2/33, Austin Winchester 2/14, Dalton Yancey 1/7. Dover, Brantley Craig 2/33, Jacob Baggett 1/13, Colton Shuffield 1/5. KICKOFF RETURNS: Dover, Brantley Craig 3/28, Jeremiah Mercer 2/3 PUNT RETURNS: None INTERCEPTION RETURNS: HS, Chris Edwards 1/71 PUNTS: Dover, Jon Greathouse 5/136