HEBER SPRINGS - Caleb Bowman’s touchdown hat trick and Charlie Sowell’s two interceptions helped lead the Clinton Yellowjackets (1-0) to a 28-17 victory on the road against arch-rival Heber Springs (0-1). The win is Clinton’s second in a row over the Panthers, and guarantees that the Battle of the Little Red River Trophy will reside at Clinton High School for another 365 days.
Heber Springs won the toss and deferred their option to the second half. Clinton’s first possession looked promising, but a series of penalties and other miscues cost the Jackets good field position. Heber Springs’s start was much better. Following a couple of short plays, quarterback Adam Martin found Jacob Bremmon on a post route for a 61-yard touchdown reception to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Clinton’s next drive was also killed by penalties, and resulted in a turnover on downs when sophomore quarterback Weston Amos was sacked near midfield.
The Panthers, with good field position, moved the ball to the Clinton 37 yard line. Facing 3rd and 6, Martin rolled to his right looking for Bremmon along the sideline. However, Charlie Sowell jumped the route and intercepted Martin’s pass to momentarily end the threat. On the first play of Clinton’s ensuing possession, Amos fumbled the snap and the ball was recovered by Heber Springs deep in Clinton territory. The Yellowjackets defense held Heber Springs on third down inside the 10 yard line, and Julian Cameron connected on a 25 yard field goal to give Heber Springs the lead with 6:36 left in the half.
The next Clinton drive appeared to be dead in the water like the previous two drives. Facing 3 and 19 from the Jacket 27 yard line, Weston Amos spun out a couple of tackles and sprinted 41 yards to the Panther 25 yard line. A personal foul penalty tacked on an additional 15 yards, putting the Jackets in business from the 10 yard line. Four plays later, Caleb Bowman rumbled over left tackle for his first touchdown from 3 yards out. Amos’s two point conversion pass to Nate Lonnon was good, cutting the Panther lead to 10-8 with 1:46 left in the first half.
Heber Springs drove right back down the field to the Clinton 27 yard line courtesy of three consecutive completions. After spiking the ball, Martin overthrew Bremmon on a post route, and Charlie Sowell intercepted the pass coming from his safety position at the 10 yard line. Sowell raced back up the field, eventually being knocked out of bounds at the Panther 1 yard line with 13 seconds remaining in the first half. The stunned Panther faithful watched as Bowman plunged into the endzone for his second touchdown. Sky Davidson’s two point run was successful, and Clinton went to the locker room with a 16-10 lead and all the momentum.
The Yellowjackets methodically chewed up most of the clock in the second half with long touchdown drives of 54 and 79 yards. Bowman rumbled in from 11 yards out to cap off the first score of the second half, and Weston Amos snuck in from 3 yards out to give Clinton a commanding 28-10 lead with 6:22 left in the game.
Heber Springs did manage to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter on Blaze Nelson’s 3 yard touchdown run to make the score 28-17, but that was as close as they would get.
Clinton’s offense controlled the clock for 34 minutes compared to 12 for the Panthers. Leading the Yellowjacket rushing attack was Amos with 85 yards on 15 carries. Sky Davidson added 50 yards, and Bowman tallied 47 yards on 9 carries. Ethen Drake ran for 45 yards, and John Riley Hinchey added 42 as the Jackets racked up 263 rushing yards.
Amos also completed 4 of 6 passes for 34 yards. He was intercepted once. Nate Lonnon caught three passes for 27 yards, while Austin Drake caught the other pass for 7 yards.
Defensively, Bowman and Jonathan Carter each recorded 9 tackles. Jayden Exzabe and Ty Parker each recorded a sack in the contest.
The Jackets return to action next Friday in Berryville as they take on the Bobcats (1-0), who defeated Decatur 61-0 Friday night. Kickoff is a 7 pm and can be heard on KHPQ 92.1, with Jeff Hall and Mike Hawley calling the action.
Game Notes… Captains were Dylan Hayford, Clint Bagley, Charlie Sowell, and Nate Lonnon… The Jackets were penalized 4 times in the first quarter, but were flagged just once the rest of the game. Heber Springs was penalized 12 times in the contest… Clinton wore an all-white uniform for the first time in recent memory. The student section also dressed in all white… Bowman’s three touchdowns and 47 yards were career highs for the junior fullback.
How the 3A-1 Fared:
Clinton 1-0 Defeated Heber Springs 28-17
Greenland 1-0 Defeated West Fork 35-0
Melbourne 1-0 Defeated Corning 46-14
Green Forest 0-1 Lost to Huntsville 27-3
Marshall 0-1 Lost to Hector 45-14
Mt. View 0-1 Lost to Salem 40-18
Elkins 0-1 Lost to Shiloh Christian 50-18
Yellville-Summit 0-1 Lost to Paris 46-14