SILOAM SPRINGS – The Crosby Tuck era began with a bang for the Van Buren Pointers on Friday night.
Van Buren scored on four long plays, including a kickoff return, and won its season opener for the second year in a row with a 35-21 win over Siloam Springs.
Van Buren (1-0) scored on pass plays of 52 and 56 yards, a 40-yard run, and a 99-yard kickoff return to kick start the season.
Van Buren’s first possession ended with a punt, but after holding Siloam Springs, the Pointers grabbed a 7-0 lead.
Quarterback Gary Phillips swung a pass out to Brayden Rivas, who went 52 yards for Van Buren’s opening touchdown of the season with 8:34 left in the opening quarter.
Siloam Springs (0-1) answered, going 72 yards in seven plays. Quarterback Taylor Pool tied the game with a 14-yard touchdown run with 6:21 left in the quarter.
Van Buren seized the lead for good and in exciting fashion.
Jaiden Henry took the ensuing kickoff at his own 1 and sprinted 99 yards for a touchdown with 6:07 left in the quarter.
Van Buren added to its lead in the second quarter.
Phillips hit Henry on a screen, and Henry broke a tackle near the 20 and finished off a 56-yard touchdown play with 8:09 left in the half for a 21-7 lead.
Again, Siloam Springs answered.
The Panthers needed just three plays to get within, 21-14, on Pool’s 59-yard touchdown pass to Gage Weaver with 7:26 left before halftime.
The Pointers took a 28-14 lead at the half after holding Siloam Springs on downs.
Phillips capped a five-play drive with a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:42 left before half.
Van Buren took advantage of a fumble, recovered by linebacker Devin Swearingen, to notch its final score and put the game away on Phillips’ 1-yard touchdown sneak with 10:29 left in the game. Chris Flores added his fifth extra point.
Siloam Springs added a final touchdown on Hunter Talley’s sneak with 4:22 left.
Van Buren had 446 yards of offense with Phillips completing 13-of-21 passes for 230 yards. Henry caught four passes for 97 yards, had the kickoff return for a touchdown, and intercepted a pass on defense.
Rivas led Van Buren’s ground game with 79 yards on 11 carries.