The Heber Springs Panthers season came to an end Friday night following their 35-7 road loss to the Gosnell Pirates in the second round of the Class 4A State Football Playoffs, finishing with an 8-4 overall record to go with a second consecutive 4A-2 conference title for the first time in 37 years.
Gosnell went up 8-0 a little over halfway through the first quarter after senior defensive back Trajan Donnerson picked off a pass from Heber Springs sophomore quarterback Adam Martin, taking it to the end zone while also converting on the two-point attempt. The Panthers were able to march down the field and get to the 22-yard line on their next drive thanks to first down runs from junior Blaze Nelson and a connection from Martin to Rocky Finney, but a fumble to start the next twelve minutes of play turned into a recovery for the Pirates at their own 20-yard line.
Sophomore running back Jydarian Young ripped off a 32-yard run to get the ball past midfield, running in his first touchdown of the night from 17 yards out, extending the lead to 15-0. Heber Springs senior receiver Jacob Bremmon returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, but another fumble led to a recovery for the Pirates, with Young reaching the end zone again, this time from 44 yards to cushion the lead at 22-0 with 8:15 remaining in the half. The struggles continued for the Panthers, with Martin getting sacked for a loss of seven yards followed by a false start and incomplete pass to end the drive on three and out.
The Pirates ended the half on a high note after senior quarterback Brandon Partee threaded the needle to Donnerson, who took it 90 yards to the house to for a 29-0 advantage. Receiving the ball to start the second half, Gosnell got on the scoreboard for the final time after Young scored his third touchdown on a 27-yard run for a 35-0 lead. Heber Springs ended their dry spell after Martin completed passes to Finney and Bremmon, leading to sophomore Julio Rubio rushing for 15 yards and Martin breaking the plane for the Panthers’ first score of the game with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
The final quarter of action saw Heber turn the football over on downs after falling short of the end zone on a running play on fourth and four, as the Pirates ran the clock out the remainder of the game.
Partee finished with 110 yards on 2 of 6 passing with a touchdown and also ran six times for 82 yards for Gosnell (9-3), who advances to the Elite Eight and will take on the 12-0 Robinson Senators Fridaynight. Young clocked in with 140 rushing yards on seven carries for three touchdowns. Senior Hunter Jolly led the team in total tackles with fifteen, including two for loss of yards.
The Panthers finished the 2017 season with an 8-4 record, going 6-1 in the 4A-2 conference race while also collecting a second consecutive league title.