By todd traub
Leader sports editor
It began with a goal-line stand and ended with one, and somewhere in between Cabot scored enough points to beat North Little Rock 14-7 in overtime at Panther Stadium on Friday night.
The Panthers scored on Spencer Smith’s two-yard run that began the extra period for their first lead. Then Cabot, in its best defensive effort of the year, stopped North Little Rock on downs, chasing quarterback Kaylon Cooper out of bounds near the 5 on his fourth and 16 carry to lock up the 7A/6A-Central Conference victory.
“We didn’t quit, we got it when we had to and all I can say is I’m tickled to death to get a conference win over a good North Little Rock team,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said.
Charging Wildcats kicker Edgar Atilano missed a 37-yard field goal wide left with 16 seconds left in regulation, and North Little Rock’s overtime drive was plagued by a holding penalty that wiped out Cooper’s six-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Dunlap and brought up the fourth and 16 situation.
Both coaches were at a loss to explain why Cooper stepped out of bounds with Cabot’s Greg Phelps closing in instead of fighting for yardage and possibly breaking a tackle.
“That shocked me man,” Malham said. “But I’m glad he did.”
North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding said he wouldn’t be able to explain the decision making by Cooper, who was coming out of a timeout, until he watched film and spoke to his quarterback.
Cabot (4-2, 2-1) set the defensive tone early, stopping North Little Rock at the 1 on the first possession of the game and again on fourth down later in the first quarter.
The Panthers’ worst mishap was an underthrown interception by Zach Craig that led to the Charging Wildcats’ only scoring drive, and North Little Rock got the touchdown and the lead with Cooper’s 43-yard pass to Hunter Airheart that made it 7-0 with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
But after forcing a punt, Cabot started at its 6 with 8:14 left and drove for Spencer’s 1-yard run and Jesus Marquez’s extra point that tied it at 14 with 1:36 to go. Jeremy Berry had a 31-yard run on the possession to help get Cabot away from its end zone and Smith had a 22-yard run up the middle.
“We started finding a few creases and did what we had to do when we had to do it,” Malham said.
Smith led Cabot with 147 yards and Berry had 82 while Kendall Williams led North Little Rock with 125.