Saturday, September 08, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot offense, lightning lights up the Rockets

Leader sports editor

Lightning shortened Friday’s meeting between Cabot and Catholic High with the Panthers leading 28-7.

The Panthers dominated most of the first half in their home opener, but the tide had started to change and the weather interrupted play on a crucial fourth-down play.

Catholic had fourth and 2 at the Cabot 8-yard line when the stadium was cleared. After a nearly 90-minute delay, the rest of the game was canceled.

The Panthers got off to a fast start, scoring the first 28 points of the game. Catholic did not stop a single Cabot drive in the first half. The Panthers had four possessions and scored four touchdowns.

Two were long runs on double handoffs to halfback Max Carroll.

The senior got his first carry of the game on the fifth play. The inside handoff went to Chris Henry, who handed it to Carroll going the other way. The play fooled the entire Catholic defense and Carroll raced 63 yards untouched with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.

Cabot’s defense gave up one first down on the Rockets’ first drive, but forced a punt and got the ball back on its own 6-yard line.

The Panthers ate up chunks of yardage for the first five plays, moving the ball out to the Catholic 41-yard line. That’s when the double handoff was called again.

This time it only fooled 10 of the Rockets’ 11 defenders, but Carroll outran his man to the end zone. Jesus Marquez’s extra point made it 14-0 with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

Catholic committed its first major mistake on offense on its next drive, and it came on the heels of its best play to that point.

Quarterback Zach Pinter found receiver Jacob Currence for a 34-yard gain, but Cur-rence fumbled while being tackled. Cabot’s Matt Griffin picked the ball up at the Cabot 44 and returned it to the Catholic 34.

Halfback Chris Henry went 20 yards on first down. Fullback Kyle Edgar got 11 on the next play and Zach Launius got the last three for another Cabot touchdown. The extra-point made it 21-0 with 3:55 still left in the opening quarter.

Catholic put together a nice drive and Cabot had no answer for the Rocket passing game. The Rockets drove to the Panther 8-yard line, but defensive back Jacob Ferguson intercepted a Pinter pass in the back corner of the end zone to give the Panthers possession at the Rockets’ 20.

There were no big plays on Cabot’s next drive, just a methodical march down the field. The Panthers converted three third down plays and one fourth-down attempt.

Max Carroll took the option pitch 7 yards on third and 8. Quarterback Kason Kimbrell then kept the ball for 3 yards on fourth down.

Kyle Edgar got 6 yards on first and goal from the 7, and Launius did the rest. The drive took 17 plays and ate up eight minutes of clock. The extra point made it 28-0 with 4:57 remaining until halftime.

That’s when Catholic made its move. The Rockets went almost exclusively to the air and Cabot couldn’t stop it. They marched 86 yards in 10 plays, using just more than three minutes to get into the end zone.

The final play was an 18-yard pass to Currence. Cabot was also called for pass interference on the play, which was assessed on the kickoff.

Kicking off from the Cabot 45, Catholic elected try an onside kick and covered it at the Panther 32-yard line. Two Catholic penalties forced the Rockets into a fourth-and-13 situation, but they converted it when Pinter hit Hamaker for a 19-yard gain at the 16-yard line with 28 seconds left in the half.

Two incomplete passes were followed by a Pinter draw play that gained 8, setting up fourth and 2 at the Cabot 8-yard line with 7 seconds remaining. That’s when the stadium was cleared due to the weather.