In a high-scoring 7A/6A-West finale, it was the little things that made the difference in Siloam Springs beating Van Buren 49-40.
The Panthers (2-7-1, 1-6) converted two of four Pointers turnovers into touchdowns while blocking a punt for another score.
“Turnovers and a blocked punt … that was the difference,” Van Buren coach Brooks Coatney said. “I was proud off the way we battled. We showed a lot of fight and never gave up. We continued to make plays all night. I was proud of their effort.”
While Van Buren (1-9, 0-7) sees its 2013 season end, Siloam Springs continues next week with a road trip to Searcy in the first round of the 6A playoffs. Panthers coach Bryan Ross said the victory will be a momentum lift going into the postseason.
“I am so happy the team got to experience some success just before the playoffs,” Ross said.
After the teams finished the first half tied at 21, Siloam Springs got a fumble early in the third period and converted it into a score on Mitchel Dolezal’s 4-yard run for a 28-21 Panther lead.
Dolezal finished the game with 199 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Pointers were poised to tie the game on the next play from scrimmage when Brad Eversole hit Andrew Martin for a 78-yard touchdown pass. But the extra point, which was from 35-yards out after an unsportsmanlike penalty on Van Buren, was wide right and Siloam Springs still led 28-27.
The Panthers then pulled away on touchdowns on consecutive possession. Nick Herring hit Chandler Gregory on an halfback-option pass for a 13-yard TD with 48 seconds left in the third quarter. Then, quarterback Chris Lampton snuck in from the 1 to give Siloam Springs a commanding 42-27 lead with 9:24 left.
Van Buren got as close as eight at 42-34 on a 7-yard Eversole to Martin touchdown pass with 6:50 left.
Eversole finished the game with 347 passing yards and two scores. Martin finished with nine catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns.