FORT SMITH — For all but one play Friday, Conway’s Jeff Anderson ran roughshod over the Southside Rebels.
But with the game tied at 21, and with Conway facing third-and-one near midfield, Southside’s Jacob Falleur finally had enough.
Falleur helped stuff Anderson for a 4-yard loss and the Rebels’ Clayton Pankey returned a punt 44 yards to set up the go-ahead score as Southside rallied past Conway, 35-21, Friday at Rowland Stadium.
With the win, the Rebels (5-2, 4-0) head for unbeaten Greenwood Friday for a key 7A/6A-Central showdown.
“I saw a gap and I hit it,” Pankey said. “From there, my blockers set up along the sideline and I started going.”
Pankey weaved and cut his way past midfield, leading to quarterback Isaac Jackson’s 49-yard touchdown run that put the Rebels ahead to stay with 6:07 left in the game.
The Rebels’ defense, which had allowed three first half touchdowns, pitched a second-half shutout while helping Southside remain perfect at home.
“The second half, we put more people in the box and in the secondary we were guarding people one-on-one,” Pankey said. “We did our job in the second half.”
“I thought special teams played a huge part in the second half — it kind of turned the field on us,” Conway coach Clint Ashcraft said. “Field position was bad for us in the second half. They (Southside) did a great job finishing in the fourth quarter; they outplayed us in the fourth quarter.”
The Rebels opened the scoring by driving 80 yards in 10 plays, using up 4 1/2 minutes off the clock in the process. Jackson set up the first score by hitting Austin Griffin with a 36-yard strike to the Wampus Cats’ 5.
Price scored on the next play for a quick 7-0 lead.
Conway (5-1, 3-1) drove 85 yards in 11 plays for its first score, which was set up by Anderson’s 40-yard run to the Rebels’ 16.
Then on third-and-9, Ashcraft used some trickery. Cox took a pitch from Rhoades, then turned back to his right and hit a wide open Quenton Wyrick for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
The Rebels — who punted on fourth-and-one from their 41 on their second series — appeared to have Conway stopped on its second drive when, on fourth-and-two and Conway set to punt the ball away, Southside jumped into the neutral zone for a five-yard penalty.
Fueled by Anderson’s second long run of the half, a 38-yard scamper to the Rebels’ 12, Conway scored its second touchdown on Brandon Kotch’s 1-yard plunge with 8:17 left in the first half.
Griffin’s 48-yard kickoff return set up Southside’s second TD — a 50-yard strike from Jackson to Reece Strickland with 6:18 left in the half.
But the Rebels had no answer for Conway. The Wampus Cats drove 82 yards for the go-ahead score on their third and final series of the half. Two key plays, Cox’s 35-yard run on first down and Rhoades’ 28-yard strike to Cox on third-and-9, led to Kotch’s second touchdown, a 4-yard run with 2:52 to play in the half.
Southside got as far as the Wampus Cats’ 15 when, on fourth-and-five, Wooten missed a 32-yard field goal attempt.