GREENBRIER -- So far this season, Greenbrier football has made it look easy.
Coming into Week 3, the Panthers had outscored their opponents 89-27 with back-to-back 40-plus point performances against Beebe and Batesville to start the season. However, they got a test Friday night.
In a constant back-and-forth affair, Greenbrier (3-0) held onto a narrow lead until the final seconds of Friday's contest to pull out a 55-47 against an Arkadelphia (1-2) team that just didn't seem to go away.
"They just play clean," Arkadelphia Coach Trey Schucker said about Greenbrier. "They don't make mistakes, they just play hard. They're not the most talented, they're not the fastest, but they play hard and that makes up for it."
Despite being outgained by the Badgers 611-558, Greenbrier jumped out to a seven-point lead halfway through the first quarter and, in a game that felt close all night, it never relinquished that lead.
The Panthers went into the half leading by 15 and within the first three minutes of the second half scored its sixth touchdown to extend its lead to 22, their largest of the night. However, Arkadelphia showed it had more left in the tank.
The Badgers marched 76 yards on a 9-play drive, capping it with a phenomenal throw by quarterback Donovan Whitten to running back Jaishon Davis, who made a toe-tap snag in the end zone to cut Greenbrier's lead back to 15. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, kicker Spencer Allen executed an onside that went the Badgers way. They rode the momentum and scored a touchdown two plays later on a 44-yard run from Davis, which made it a one-score game.
Davis ended up being a bellcow for the Badgers, finishing the night with 183 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, as well as 23 yards on three receptions and a touchdown catch.
Not to be outdone, however, was Greenbrier, which had its own feature back on the night in Nick Huett.
"He's just a powerful guy that loves to play," Greenbrier Coach Randy Tribble said. "Just a powerful, strong kid that loves to play."
Huett finished the night with 100 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and a 46-yard reception. He also played a big role in perhaps the game's most crucial drive.
With 4:12 left, Whitten found Braylon Bailey for a 56-yard score that cut Greenbrier's lead to two points. The Panthers got the ball back at their own 35 and ran the ball 11 times on a 12-play drive to run out the clock and ice the game, capping it with an 8-yard touchdown run as time expired. Huett got six carries on the drive and totaled 22 yards.
"Both teams played great," Tribble said. "We kind of thought we had them and they came back and made a game out of it again. It was a great job by both teams, but our kids just made the plays down the stretch."
One area that was valuable for Greenbrier as well was special teams. The Panthers kicked off to Arkadelphia 10 times and on six of those occasions, the Badgers weren't able to get further than their own 20-yard line. On the Panthers' seven kick returns, they brought six of them past their own 20, including four that went beyond their own 25.
"We've done real good on that this year," Tribble said. "It's been something that [I'm] really happy to see."