By Mike Garrity
Special to The Leader
The Cabot Panthers were the definition of efficient on Friday night at Quigley Stadium in Little Rock, defeating Little Rock Central 54-20
The Panthers (5-2, 3-1) scored a touchdown on eight of their 11 possessions in the game. Cabot scored on four of five tries in the first half, while four of six possessions in the second half were finished in the end zone.
“We had a good night,” said Panthers head coach Mike Malham. “The offensive line did a good job. We had some good running lanes for the backs and we are just pleased that the offense moved the ball and the defense for the most part did a good job.
“Tonight, things went our way and we are just tickled to get out of here with a conference win.”
The Panthers piled up 426 yards of offense, including 391 on the ground. Senior Andre Ausejo was the beneficiary of the good running lanes as he scored on a pair of one-yard runs and a two-yard run.
While Ausejo scored three touchdowns, he was just one of six Panthers to reach the end zone on the night.
Junior quarterback Zach Craig scored on an 11-yard run to put Cabot ahead for good at 13-7 near the end of the first quarter.
He then hit Logan Spry with a screen pass. Spry took the pass and went 14 yards for the score just before halftime.
Jeremy Berry opened the scoring in the second half with a 10-yard run over the left side for a score. After Ausejo capped a 16-play, 58-yard drive that ate up 7:36 on the clock with a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter, Weston Conard and Ian Thompson each scored late for the Panthers.
For the second-consecutive game, the Panthers pleased their head coach by taking care of the ball and committing just two penalties. After just one turnover in last week’s game, Cabot did not commit any against the Tigers.
“That makes a difference,” Malham explained. “When you don’t have the penalties and don’t have the fumbles, it makes a big difference. Hopefully we will keep getting better at that. No mistakes are the key.”
The Panthers also dominated the time of possession in the game, which is their norm. Cabot controlled the ball for 32:44, compared to just 15:16 for Central.
“The kids played very well tonight,” Malham continued. “They didn’t make mistakes. I wasn’t sure what to expect tonight. Central is getting better and better. We did give up some big plays. Central has some good skill people.
“It was our night tonight, I guess. The kids played hard and they played well.”
Malham and Central’s head coach Ellis “Scooter” Register met a midfield after the game. The veteran coaches shared quite a few moments with each other.
“We have known each other for a long time,” Malham said about the conversation with Register, in his first year as Central’s head coach after a long stint at Little Rock Catholic.
“We have faced each other quite a bit, and I think it has been a good series between us, I think it is pretty even too.
“But, Scooter is a good buddy of mine. You want to win, but when the game is over, it is over and we are friends.”