The Lonoke Jackrabbits pulled away from Heber Springs in the second half for a 63-34 win the 4A-2 conference opener Friday night.
For the first time since 2010, Lonoke starts conference play at 1-0.
“The kids are going out there and competing on Friday night, giving us all they have,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “As a coaching staff, we’re appreciative of their effort.”
Lonoke led 28-21 at halftime.
“We had some defensive breakdowns in the first half but we got that corrected,” Bost said. “We held them to two touchdowns and the offense came out there and put the points on the board. The offense was really clicking.”
The Panthers took a 7-0 lead with 8:57 left in the first quarter. Lonoke tied the game at 7-7 when Kody Smith scored on a 1-yard run with 3:38 left in the quarter. Jose Garcia kicked his first of seven extra points on the evening. He was 7 for 8 in the victory.
Lonoke got the ball back after an interception by Dylan Walker. That led to Blake Mack scoring on a 4-yard run with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
Heber Springs tied the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter. Lonoke regained the lead at 21-14 on 42-yard run by Mack with 9:45 left in the half.
Heber Springs stayed with Lonoke, tying the game at 21-21 before the Jackrabbits took the lead for good on a 2-yard run by Smith with 12. 1 seconds left.
The Jackrabbits put the game away in the third quarter, scoring 21 points to start the second half. Smith scored on a 22-yard run with 11:01 left. The extra point was no good.
Josh Coleman then scored on a 33-yard run. Smith scored the two-point conversion. After a Heber Springs punt, Smith threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Mack. Garcia’s extra point was good, making the score 49-21.
Heber Springs scored two second-half touchdowns. Lonoke scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Coleman scored on a 19-yard run with 5:49 left. Mark Odom scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard run with 1:47 left.
Lonoke rushed for 474 yards in the win. Coleman had 184 yards on 18 carries. Smith had 126 yards on 18 carries. Mack had 117 yards o 11 carries.
Smith completed 4 of 7 passes for 84 yards. Mack caught two passes for 63 yards. Nick Watson caught two passes for 21 yards.
Trey Bevis led Lonoke with 11 tackles. Walker had nine. Chandler Elmore and Ethan Holland had seven tackles each. Cedric Cooney and Dylan Goforth had six tackles each.
The Panthers finished with 443 yards in total offense.
Lonoke (3-1) will take on Newport for homecoming Friday night. The Greyhounds are 3-1. They are coming off a 42-0 loss to Pine Bluff Dollarway in the conference opener last week.
“They’ve got every skill guy back,” Bost said of Newport, which beat Lonoke 42-28 after trailing 21-7 a year ago. “Offensive line, they did lose four starters. But, looking at them on film, they are going to man you up on defense and go with you where ever you go. So, this week, we’re working hard on beating man-to-man coverage.”
Bost said homecoming can be a distraction but knows his players will be ready.
“The seniors are usually mature enough to know how to handle it,” Bost said. “At the end of the week, they know there is a game to be played and a game to be won. Anytime you win your homecoming game, it’s a big deal. I think my boys will be focused on Friday night.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at James B. Abraham Stadium.