While Conway Christian’s Tanner Stevenson, Chandler Ferrand and Ancil Lea produced their share of offense, the Eagles’ got some big plays on defense Friday night on the way to a 40-13 victory over Poyen in their conference opener at Mission Field.
Stevenson completed 18 of 23 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns and Ferrand was on the receiving end of 10 of those passes for 169 yards. Lea added 115 yards on 18 carries.
But the Eagles (3-1) had to hang on a bit after they began the fourth quarter with three lost fumbles and an interception while trying to build on a 26-7 lead.
Each time, the Eagles stopped the Indians (0-4) in the red zone. Byron Pascoe had two interceptions, Shane Starkey one and Seth Bickford added a fourth-down sack.
That allowed the Eagle offense to right itself with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away. Stevenson passed 9 yards to Jonathan Antonio to complete a 71-yard drive then Ferrand, the backup quarterback, added a 20-yard run.
The Indians, who had not scored all season, scored in the first minute and the last second. Ryan Dykes scored on a 4-yard run after Justin Blocker set things up with a 75-yard return of the opening kickoff. Quarterback Asa Riggan, 6-foot-1, 260, who gave the Eagles problems all night with his running and passing, scored from 3 yards out on the last play.
Trailing 7-0, CCS rallied for four first-half touchdowns. Two of them occurred in the first quarter when Lea scampered around end for 31 yards and Stevenson capped an 89-yard drive with a 10-yard pass to Andrew Dather, who was playing for the first time in two weeks after suffering a leg injury in the second game.
Stevenson helped CCS break the game open in the second quarter with passes of 52 and 23 yards to Ferrand.
The Eagles, who lost two fumbles and were intercepted twice had 480 yards of total offense to 282 for Poyen, which ran a whopping 67 plays.
In other action, the four other Faulkner County teams prevailed in their conference openers.
At Russellville, the Wampus Cats’ Jeff Anderson scored three first-half touchdowns, including a 95-yard kickoff return, to lead Conway to the 21-7 victory over the Crimson Cyclones.
The Crimson Cyclones (2-2) tied the score at 7 in the first quarter after Anderson’s 8-yard sweep for a touchdown. Anderson then returned the ensuing kickoff to give the Cats (3-0) the lead for good.
“That kickoff return was really big,” said Conway coach Clint Ashcraft. “We were kind of sputtering on offense and that gave us a big boost.”
Anderson scored on a 22-yard run to give Conway a 21-7 lead at the half.
The Cats then made several big plays on defense to thwart Russellville in a scoreless second half.
“We worked on red-zone defense all week, and when they got inside the 20, we hunkered down and play a lot harder and manage to keep them out of the end zone,” said Ashcraft.
The Cats play at Little Rock Hall next week.
At Phillip Weaver Stadium in Vilonia, the Eagles (3-0) dominated after winless Harrison scored on its first drive.
Then, Vilonia quarterback Kyle Wyatt scored on a 1-yard run after setting things up with a 45-yard scamper. Wyatt then passed 6 yards for another touchdown and Houston Cotton completed changed the momentum with a 68-yard return for a touchdown.
Jake Steward scored on a 10-yard run to give the Eagles a 29-9 lead at halftime.
They poured in on the second half against the mistake-prone and penalty-plagued Goblins (0-4).
Wyatt and Michael Atkinson scored touchdowns the second half as the Eagles pulled away, substituting free after they invoked the mercy rule in the fourth quarter.
Vilonia has its longest road trip of the year next week at new 5A-West member Shiloh Christian.
At Mayflower, Daniel Geiber scored six touchdowns (four rushing and two receiving) as the Eagles (2-2) romped to a 56-26 victory over Perryville in their conference opener.
Geiber rushed 15 times for 95 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 95 yards in receptions and two touchdowns.
The Eagles romped to a 28-0 lead in the first six minutes of the first quarter.
Quarterback Adam Dycus completed 12 of 21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Burns was 12 of 20 for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Dycus rushed for 72 yards on seven carries. Burns rushed for 29 yards.
Josh Woodham caught three passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Drew Duncan had 94 yards on seven catches. Madison Chambliss had eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Garrett Taylor had one reception for 20 yards.
Matthew Post was eight of eight on extra points.
The Eagles play next week at Bald Knob.
At Greenbrier, the Panthers, after dominating two straight 6A opponents, did the same against Huntsville in their 5A-West opener at Don Jones Stadium.
Greenbrier (4-0) jumped on Huntsville early on the way to the 48-12 victory.
The Panthers put the mercy rule in effect for the beginning of the third quarter with a 42-6 halftime lead.
Quarterback Seth Peters passed for 250 yards in a half of play. Austin Fischer had a big night both running and receiving and also stripped a ball and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.
Coach Randy Tribble played his young players regularly the second half.
The Panthers play at Harrison next week.
“We have things headed the right direction; we just have to keep improving,” Tribble said.