LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Harding Academy senior Caleb Spears caught one pass in the Arkansas Class 3A Championship game Saturday, but it’s one that he and his teammates will remember.
Spears caught the final pass of the game from Will Francis at the 10-yard-line, broke a couple of tackles and dove into the end zone with six seconds left to give the Wildcats (14-0) a 49-45 victory over Glen Rose and the Class 3A state title.
The play capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive that started with 1:11 to play.
“We have had a lot of different receivers step up for us during the playoffs,” said Harding coach Roddy Mote. “They are kids who don’t see a lot of playing time but they do catch a lot of passes in practice.”
Francis, a senior, completed 35 of 48 passes for 499 yards and four touchdowns and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Francis had TD passes of 1 and 3 yards to Hunter Gentry, 12 yards to Kohl Blickenstaff and the winner to Spears. Trey Davis also scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and was a perfect seven-of-seven on extra point kicks.
Glen Rose quarterback Collin Hunter completed 15 of 19 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 71 yards and three touchdowns. His 12-yard scoring pass to James Peterson with 1:11 left put the Beavers (13-2) up 45-42. He also hit Hayden Bredensteiner with a 30-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and Charles Harris kicked a 24-yard field goal for Glen Rose.
Sophomore Carlos Burton rushed for 118 yards for Glen Rose and scored on a 73-yard kickoff return.
The state title, the fifth overall for Harding Academy, is the school’s first since 2002. Glen Rose was state champion in 2007 and was in the title game for the second time.