FAYETTEVILLE — Siloam Springs gift-wrapped a pair of early Watson Chapel touchdown drives by turning the ball over on the opening kickoff and a punt return in the first quarter.

FAYETTEVILLE — Siloam Springs gift-wrapped a pair of early Watson Chapel touchdown drives by turning the ball over on the opening kickoff and a punt return in the first quarter.

By the time the Panthers finally got it together on offense, they were already in a 21-0 hole and couldn’t catch the Wildcats in a 48-24 loss at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Watson Chapel forced five Siloam Springs turnovers and churned up a balanced 411 yards of offense. Defensively, the Wildcats held the quick-strike Panthers to a a meager 251 yards of offense.

“We were fortunate,” said Watson Chapel coach George Shelton. “(Siloam Springs is) a very good football team. When the breaks went our way, the kids took advantage of it. It wasn’t a shining performance by us at all, but we were certainly happy to come up here and get the win.”

The Panthers started digging their hole on the opening kick of the game.

Siloam Springs sophomore Parker Baldwin coughed up the ball on a return and Watson Chapel’s Jordan Stargell recovered at the Panthers 26.

Wildcats junior quarterback Kris McCullough then hit senior wideout Tevon Jones for a 24-yard strike to the 2 to set up a two-yard run by James Collier.

After Scout Alexander fumbled a Siloam Springs punt return and Watson Chapel recovered, the Wildcats went up 14-0 when McCullough and Jones connected for a 40-yard touchdown strike.

“I don’t know what it was (with the offense),” said Siloam Springs coach Bryan Ross. “I think we were just nervous. I don’t know if it was the stadium or what. We had a lot of young ones out there that hadn’t been out there on Friday night, and it showed. You can’t beat a decent football team turning it over five times.”

Jones would catch another 45-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a 34-18 lead. Jones finished with three catches for 109 yards. McCullough completed 11 of 14 passes for 200 yards.

“They loaded the box on us. Sometimes in three-back football, the other team will do that,” Shelton said. “Load the box and give you a one-on-one outside. We have a couple of kids we feel can do some things in the vertical passing game, and our quarterback is adequate.”

Watson Chapel junior running back Devonte Battles rushed 20 times for 129 yards and two scores, including a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter after the Panthers had pulled within 21-12.

The Panthers pulled back within 34-24 on a four-yard TD run by Austin Van Poucke with 4:47 left in the game and had a chance to cut it to a one-score game, but Siloam Springs’ two-point conversion try failed. The Panthers missed on all four PAT tries, two PAT kicks and two two-point conversions.

Siloam Springs’ defense, which played better than the scoreboard reflected, gave its offense one last chance to make a run, but Tyon Williams intercepted a pass and went 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 41-24. SanAntonio Cole added one more score in the final seconds.

Siloam Springs only had 50 yards of offense at halftime but did pick up the pace in the second half.

Alexander rushed for a pair of Panther touchdowns but was otherwise held in check in the running game. Van Poucke rushed for 65 yards on 14 carries and completed 13 of 28 passes for 181 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. His touchdown pass went to Bronson Tucker for 38 yards. Tucker caught six passes for 83 yards.