|Lonoke center Chance Bronson  blocks for running back Josh Coleman during|
Friday's game with Heber Springs. (Photos by Mark Buffalo)
By Mark Buffalo
LONOKE — The Lonoke Jackrabbits got off to an ideal start in the 4A-2 conference opener Friday against Heber Springs. However, there were 47 minutes and 14 seconds left to play.
Lonoke's Caleb Bailey returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown but the Panthers took advantage of several Lonoke miscues in winning 40-24. The Jackrabbits are now 1-3 on the season.
After Bailey's touchdown, the Jackrabbits missed the extra point, leaving the score at 6-0 with 11:46 left in the first quarter.
Heber Springs had a chance to tie early on its first possession, driving the ball to the Lonoke 13 but Lonoke's Trey Bevis forced a fumble by Heber Springs quarterback Hunter Chandler and Lonoke's Justin Meadows recovered the ball at the Lonoke 3. The Jackrabbits were then forced to punt and the Panthers drove 58 yards in six plays. Chandler Marquardt scored on a 23-yard run with 1:25 left in the first quarter. The extra point was no good, leaving the score tied at 6-6.
The Jackrabbits were forced to punt on their next possession. On the first play of the second quarter, Heber Springs' Luke McGowan blocked Ethan Holland's punt and returned it for a touchdown. The Panthers kicked the extra point to lead 13-6.
On Lonoke's next possession, Heber Springs' Austin McVay intercepted a pass. That led to a 21-yard touchdown run by Marquardt with 10:45 left in the first half.
The Jackrabbits got on the board again when Savonte Rountree threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Meadows with 5:41 left in the first half. However, Heber Springs scored late in the half on a 22-yard pass from Chandler to McVay to give the Panthers a 26-12 halftime lead.
Heber Springs pushed its lead to 32-12 on an 18-yard pass from Chandler to Edgar Torres with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
Lonoke did not go away quietly. The Jackrabbits cut the deficit to 32-18 on a 39-yard pass from Rountree to Meadows with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
The Jackrabbits then forced a punt, which was blocked and Lonoke got the ball at its own 48. Lonoke's possession ended on an interception. Lonoke's defense stiffened and forced another Heber Springs punt.
The Jackrabbits then pulled to within one score at 32-24 on a 43-yard scoring pass from Rountree to Meadows with 5:42 left. The two-point conversion failed.
Lonoke tried an onside kick but the Panthers recovered at the 50-yard line. They put the game away when Chandler scored on a 1-yard run with 1:35 left. He also scored the two-point conversion to make the score 40-24.
Heber Springs outgained Lonoke 382-339. The Panthers rushed for 276 yards and passed for 106.
Bevis led Lonoke with 13 tackles. Chandler Elmore had nine. Gabe Rooney had seven. Getting five tackles each were Bailey, Deondray Joyner, Ethan Holland, Lance Dugger and Lucas McKenzie.
Rountree completed 15 of 27 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Meadows caught eight passes for 181 yards and three scores. Logan Dozier caught two passes for 24 yards.
Lonoke will try to bounce back when the Jackrabbits travel to Newport to take on the Greyhounds. Newport is coming off a 40-20 loss to West Helena.
|Lonoke quarterback Savonte Rountree  congratulates teammate Justin Meadows|
after they hooked up for a third touchdown against Heber Springs.