Heber Springs scored on seven of nine possessions to defeat rival Clinton 52-46 while extending its winning streak to five straight on Thursday in a 2-4A Conference shootout.
Eighth-grade running back Andrew Engle, who combines amazing balance with power and uncanny field vision, ran for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries. Quarterback Pierce Mitchum completed 5 of 5 pass attempts for 56 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing five times for 65 yards and another score. Receiver Caleb Lanclos accounted for 132 total yards and two receiving touchdowns. Lanclos ran four times for 87 yards and made four receptions for 45 yards and two touchdowns.
“We clicked tonight better than we have all year,” said Jr. Panther Coach Caleb Shock. “The guys did a great job executing the game plan like we asked them to do. Awesome job. I am proud of our guys.”
On its opening drive, Heber marched 63 yards in eight plays to take the lead on a 2-yard run by Engle, who powered up the middle four plays after Lanclos carried on a jet sweep for 21 yards. Engle followed guard Andrew Bradshaw over left side for two more points on the conversion as the Jr. Panthers took an 8-0 lead with 4:31 left in the opening quarter.
Clinton countered with 7-play, 54-yard scoring drive capped by running back Avery Bramlett, who scored from 22 yards out. Bramlett carried on a counter around right tackle for two more points on the conversion, tying the score at 8-8 with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Heber came right back with a 6-play, 58-yard drive for six. Engle ignited the drive with a 20-yard run in which he spun away from a tackler at the line of scrimmage. Mitchum rolled right and hit Lanclos for 15 yards as the first quarter came to a close with the Jr. Panthers knocking on the door.
Facing second and 14, Mitchum rolled left and hit Lanclos, who tight-roped the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown with 7:13 remaining in the second quarter. Engle was initially stood up on the two-point conversion before twisting forward across the goal-line for two points, boosting the Jr. Panthers' lead to 16-8.
The Junior Yellow Jackets responded with a quick score set up by running back Mitchell McNeil, who found a seam on a sweep around left end, where he raced down the sideline for 83 yards to the Heber 7.
Two plays later running back Joseph Billings scored from five yards out and McCoy found the end zone on the conversion, tying the score at 16-all with 6:09 left in the second quarter.
The Jr. Panthers only needed three plays to regain the lead as Engle took a sweep around left end, shook a defender near the sideline and burst up field for 31 yards, setting up a 14-yard touchdown run by Mitchum, who smoothly weaved through Clinton's defense untouched. Mitchum kept for two more on the conversion, giving Heber a 24-16 lead with 5:13 remaining in the second quarter.
Page 2 of 3 - Bryce Smith gave the Jr. Panthers some breathing room by intercepting a halfback pass. Smith returned the interception 10 yards to midfield and Lanclos set up another Heber score when he carried a jet sweep around left end, cut behind a big block from Engle for 37 yards deep into Junior Yellow Jacket territory.
On second and goal, Mitchum threw a screen pass to Lanclos, who shed a defender and turned up field to complete a 4-yard touchdown. Engle started up the middle and used his patented bounce move to find room over left side for two more points on the conversion as Heber took a 32-16 lead with 2:15 left in the first half.
Clinton, utilizing the Wing-T offense, stayed in the game by covering 54 yards in five plays for a score. Facing fourth and 2, running back Wyatt McCoy raced around right end from eight yards out. McCoy also scored on the conversion, trimming Heber's lead to 32-24 with just under a minute until halftime.
Clinton received the opening kickoff of the second half with a chance to tie but Heber's defense forced a three and out and the offense picked up where it left off in the first half by scoring in two snaps.
After a 17-yard run by Mitchum, Engle carried a sweep around left end, eluded a defender at the 25 and shook another tackler inside the 5 on his way to a 45-yard touchdown run. Mitchum kept up the gut for two more points on the conversion, giving the Jr. Panthers a 40-24 lead with 5:34 remaining in the third quarter.
The pesky Jr. 'Jackets continued to hang around, pulling within 10 on a 15-yard touchdown run by McNeil.
But the Jr. Panthers would not be denied, driving 48 yards in four plays, starting with a 39-yard run by Engle. Three plays later Engle powered up the middle for a touchdown from three yards out. The two-point attempt failed, leaving Heber's lead at 46-30 with 5:28 left in the game.
Clinton responded again, this time covering 72 yards in five plays. McNeil capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run over right side and quarterback Hunter McHam passed for two more points on the conversion, slicing the Jr. Panthers' lead to 46-38 with 3:51 remaining.
Heber put the game away by recovering an onside kick and marching 48 yards in four plays, starting when Lanclos turned a quick screen pass into 18 yards.
Engle broke away from two defenders while churning out 22 yards then Lanclos carried on a jet sweep for 13 yards, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Engle, who was stopped inches short on the conversion.
With 2:24 left to play and Heber leading 52-38, the Jr. Panthers pulled their starters and Clinton took advantage with a 55-yard touchdown pass from McHam to Bramlett in the closing seconds. McHam completed the two-point pass as the Jr. 'Jackets pulled within six at 52-46.
Page 3 of 3 - Heber recovered the onside kick attempt to secure the victory. The Jr. Panthers, who are second behind Lonoke in conference play, wrap up their season on tonight against Pine Bluff Dollarway at Panther Stadium.