Newcomers to the 6A-West, Van Buren and Little Rock Parkview, battled down to the wire on Friday.
Parkview earned its first conference win with a relentless ground game and then held off Van Buren to win, 28-20, at Blakemore Field at Citizens Bank Stadium.
Parkview (4-1, 1-1) missed its first two conference games against Greenwood and Lake Hamilton due to quarantine and lost last week to Benton.
Van Buren (3-4, 1-3) fell for the first time at home this season.
Here are five takeaways from Parkview’s victory on Friday:
1. Run Parkview run
The Patriots leaned on a run-heavy offense in the win.
"That’s all we could do," Parkview head coach Brad Bolding said. "Hat’s off to our guys for battling."
Parkview had 52 rushing attempts for 298 yards and all four touchdowns.
Quarterback Landon Rogers, who has committed to play at the University of Arkansas, ran for 102 yards with touchdown runs of 54 and 17 yards.
He completed just one pass in three attempts with no tries in the second half.
"We couldn’t throw it," Bolding said. "Landon jammed his throwing finger real bad. He couldn’t bend it.
"The index finger is an important part of throwing the football. That hurt us a little bit. They stacked the box and went zero coverage."
Junior running back James Jointer, another Patriot that will play Division I football, finished with 28 carries for 172 yards.
2. To the end
Jointer scored on a 39-yard run with 59 seconds left that bumped Parkview’s lead to 28-20.
Knowing that was the only opportunity to get the ball back, in a rare but sometimes effective move, Van Buren allowed the touchdown.
With two timeouts left and starting from its 22, Van Buren converted three first downs and Gary Phillips’ 12-yard pass to Jaiden Henry had the Pointers at Parkview’s 49 with 15 seconds left.
Phillips, though, with receivers covered, was forced to scramble on the Pointers’ final two plays before the final play ended at Parkview’s 28.
"I give a lot of credit to those guys," Bolding said. "They did a good job. They had a good game plan. They played their tails off over there. Those guys played hard."
The first half also ended with Van Buren deep in Parkview territory at the 13 when time expired.
3. No doubt
Down, 21-14, late in the game, Van Buren’s defense forced a punt and the Pointers took over at the 29.
Phillips fired a pass across the middle to Chi Henry, who turned down the visiting sidelines and completed a 71-yard scoring play with 1:16 left.
The Pointers immediately called for a two-point play for the lead.
"We were going for two there," Van Buren head coach Crosby Tuck said. "Against a team that talented and going blow-for-blow over and over in overtime isn’t a great idea."
The two-point pass was tipped and left Parkview with a one-point lead.
"It gave us a chance," Tuck said. "They kept fighting, that’s why I’m so proud of this football team."
4. Second quarter
Van Buren had a golden opportunity in the second quarter that ended with zero points.
After T.J. Dyer had tied the game at 7-7 with a powerful 7-yard touchdown run on fourth down, three plays later on defense he had a third-down sack to force Parkview to punt.
A bad snap on the punt forced the Parkview punter to run with Grant King tackling him for a 16-yard loss at the 3.
An incomplete pass in the end zone, a loss of a yard on a run, and another incomplete pass forced a field goal attempt that was blocked.
Van Buren felt that the third-down pass should have resulted in pass interference.
"I’m so frustrated that pass interference call doesn’t get made," Tuck said. "I think it’s one of the most blatant pass interference calls that I’ve seen that didn’t get called. There are bang-bang calls all of the time that don’t get called.
"There are calls I’m sure Parkview feels like they missed. They are calls that we feel like they missed. I think the refs did a good job of keeping a fair, balanced, well-called game the whole time, but that one specific play with somebody getting there that early is really frustrating. I think it changes the whole outcome."
5. Facts and figures
The meeting was the first ever on the football field between Parkview and Van Buren, and next year’s game will be held at War Memorial Stadium. … Van Buren finished with 67 offensive plays for 408 yards, marking the fifth time this season for the offense to over 400 yards and fourth-straight game. … Van Buren’s defense limited Parkview to 308 yards. … Van Buren had 22 first downs while Parkview had 18. … Van Buren’s final three games are against Lake Hamilton, Greenwood and Benton, which are a combined 9-0 in conference play thus far.