Saturday, September 04, 2010

SPORTS>>South wins Panther civil war

Leader sports editor

It probably isn’t too surprising Cabot South Junior High and Cabot North played to a thrilling finish Thursday night.

What would you expect from teams that share the same playbook?

South’s Tyler Stone intercepted North’s fourth-down pass in the end zone as time expired to preserve South’s 14-8 victory in the season opener at Panther Stadium.

The defensive stand capped a scoreless second half and underscored the fact the teams, which feed talent to the senior high Panthers, run basically the same Dead-T offense used by the varsity.

“It’s just one of those games; it doesn’t matter what teams’ records are or whatever,” South coach Lee Melder said. “These kids are going to play hard against each other. It’s a blood battle and that’s what we expect.”

South took a 14-0 lead on two first-half touchdowns by leading rusher Keith Pledger, but North cut the lead on Jordan Burke’s long touchdown run in the closing seconds of the half, that, with the two-point conversion, capped the scoring.

“Having an opportunity to win the ballgame at the end, when we should be going in for the go-ahead score, I could not be prouder of this group of young men,” North coach Danny Spencer said. “They showed they’re ready to step it up.”

“We could have played a lot better but I’m never going to be disappointed in a win,” Melder said.

South recovered an onside kick to start the second half and drove to the North 29 but turned it over on downs. North marched to the South 16 but Levi Looney threw incomplete on fourth down.

“Our guys did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage at times,” Melder said. “But I’ll tell you what, North, especially in the second half, they took it to us.”

Glover Helpenstill recovered a fumble to end South’s next drive, and North drove to the South 6 with help from a pass-interference call that wiped out an interception.

“Us and the referee had opposing views on that,” Melder said.

After a timeout with 21 seconds left, Stone intercepted Looney in the front right side of the end zone as time ran out.

“We finally got the last shot in,” Melder said. “Tyler Stone, who intercepted that ball, did a great job defensively and he did a great job at halfback.”

Pledger gave South an early lead when he ran 10 yards up the middle and scored the conversion to make it 8-0 with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

The play capped a 51-yard drive that began after South recovered North’s opening onside kick.

South made it 14-0 when Pledger scored on a three-yard run, topping off a 74-yard drive with 31 seconds left in the half.

Burke dropped the ensuing kickoff and was pulled down at the 12, but he made up for it seconds later when he got through the left side and outran all pursuit for an 88-yard touchdown with 9 seconds left.

Looney kept for the conversion to make it 14-8 at halftime.

“Right back in the game, right at the half, that’s a big momentum changer,” Spencer said. “Big. But it started with the offensive line.”

Pledger gained 71 yards to lead South and Chris Henry added 48 while Kason Kimbrell had one pass completion of 21 yards.

“When we needed it, he did a great job on both sides of the ball,” Melder said of Pledger.

Thanks to his long run, Burke led North with 108 yards and Charlie Hancock gained 53.

“We’re not where we need to be but we’re knocking at the door,” Spencer said.


The Senators struck first on a 15-yard option play but the rest was all Red Devils.

Carlin Heard tied the game for Jacksonville with a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

The score was tied 6-6 at the half before Randy Armstrong set up the go-ahead score for Jacksonville in the third quarter with a 38-yard run off a reverse that gave the junior Devils first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Again it was Heard crossing the goal line for the score. Quarterback Jacob Price hit Robert Harris for a successful two-point conversion pass.

Heard set the final margin with a 20-yard touchdown run.