Saturday, November 20, 2010

SPORTS>>Panthers end road in defeat by Rebels

Leader sports editor

Cabot was hoping to engineer one more home game when it left for its 7A state playoff game at Forth Smith Southside on Friday.

Instead the Panthers won’t play a regulation game at Panther Stadium until next year.

The Rebels scored three touchdowns in the first half on the way to a 28-7 quarterfinal victory at Johnny Roland Stadium that sent Cabot packing.

Cabot was hoping to win and for a Fayetteville victory at West Memphis to set up a home semifinal, but Cabot’s end of things became moot as Southside, facing the same scenario, rolled to its convincing victory.

Cabot trailed 21-0 at halftime but, before a good-sized and noisy Cabot crowd that made the trip, was threatening to get back into it after Mason James scored on a 24-yard run on a counter play with 4:58 left in the third quarter.

But Bryson Morris dropped Southside’s first punt of the game and the Rebels recovered at the Cabot 21, leading to Julius Jones’ five-hard touchdown run that made it 28-7 and capped the scoring as the game degenerated in a flurry of penalty flags in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers beat Rogers Heritage without five key players who were injured.

They welcomed back running back Spencer Smith and tight end Jesse Roberts on Friday, and running back Jeremy Berry suited up at halftime but didn’t get in. But the extra help wasn’t enough as things took a bad early turn for Cabot.

One of the worst things to happen to Southside was a fumble on the opening kickoff, but the Rebels recovered and quickly went 66 yards in seven plays, scoring on Jones’ 21-yard run he set up with a stutter step at the line of scrimmage before his dash up the middle.

Hunter Whorton completed first-down passes of 18 and 11 yards on the possession and Jones scored with 9:26 left in the first quarter.

Cabot got as far as the Southside 44 before a bad pitch from Morris to James Haley on third and six forced the Panthers to punt. In one of the half’s worst breaks for Cabot, punter Max Carroll took the low snap on one knee and was ruled down at the Panthers 27.

On the next play Whorton kept for the touchdown, staying just in bounds and crossing the pylon to make it 14-0.

Cabot managed a first down on its next drive, but a fumble snap that Morris recovered stalled the drive and Cabot punted, successfully this time.

The Rebel were poised to scored again after driving to the Panthers 8, but Greg Phelps at least temporarily saved the day with an interception that gave Cabot possession at its 1. It was Whorton’s sixth interception of the year.

But Cabot got nowhere and punted again and Southside drove for its third score, overcoming a penalty along the way. Whorton had a 14-yard gain and scored when he rolled right under pressure and kept 12 yards to make it 21-0 with 4:36 left.

Cabot put together its best drive of the half, marching to the Southside 25, but Morris’ pass was tipped and Zach Hood intercepted and, after a block in the back penalty, the Rebels were set up at their 23.

After two rushes by Jones netted 2 yards, Whorton took a knee to keep it 21-0 at halftime.

The Rebels finished the half with 212 yards, 121 on the ground with 103 coming from Jones. Cabot gained just 83 yards in the half.