Saturday, October 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers roll over Patriots

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers got little resistance from the Marion Patriots Friday on homecoming night at Panther Stadium. Cabot rolled up 311 yards, including 299 on the ground, just in the first half. After taking a 42-7 lead into intermission, the Panthers went on to win 49-10 via the sportsmanship rule that allows for a continuous clock in the second half of a game with a point margin of 35 or more.

“You worry a little bit about letdown after a big win like last week, but we came out and played pretty well,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “Now we just have to keep that focus and intensity. You can’t get complacent because you don’t want to regress. Hopefully we can keep getting better, keep that focus up, and maybe we’ll still be standing there when the dust settles. We’re a long way from that right now, but we played pretty good tonight.”

Marion got one first down on each of its first two drives, and only three more the rest of the first half against Cabot’s starters.

The Patriots punted when faced with fourth down the first two times, but never again in the first half. They went for it every time the rest of the half, converting two of six fourth-down attempts.

Cabot took Marion’s first punt at the 39-yard line, and needed just two plays to get on the scoreboard. Senior fullback Zach Launius carried to midfield on the first play, and then broke loose for the remaining 50 on the next snap with nine minutes left in the first quarter. Senior kicker Trevor Reed, who joined the team this week, made the first of seven extra points to make it 7-0.

Marion got one first down and punted again, pinning Cabot on its own 16-yard line.

The Panthers picked up 7 yards in two plays before quarterback Kason Kimbrell fumbled it away. Though Kimbrell was hit at the line of scrimmage, Marion didn’t get on the ball until it had rolled forward 16 yards, giving the Patriots possession on the Cabot 39.

They went nowhere, turning it over on downs when tailback Andreas Jackson picked up just 1 yard on fourth and 5, giving Cabot possession on the Marion 39-yard line. Marion faced third and 1 on the drive, but cornerback Colby Ferguson and defensive end Brian Marshall sacked Marion quarterback Taylor Dunn for a 4-yard loss.

Halfback Preston Jones went 38 yards on the option pitch on the next play, setting Cabot up with first down at the Marion 29. Launius carried 17 yards from there, and Kimbrell hit receiver Jake Ferguson on a crossing route for a 12-yard touchdown connection with 1:02 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers scored four times in the second quarter. After stopping Marion on downs and taking over on their 39-yard line, two Chris Henry carries got the necessary yardage for another score. Reed’s extra point made it 21-0 with 11:16 left in the half.

After another stop on downs, Cabot got the ball on the Marion 45. Jones broke another run for 20 yards with the help of some open-field blocking by Henry. The senior Henry did the rest, carrying 19 yards for another score to make it 28-0 with 7:11 left in the second quarter.

Marion scored on its next drive. Wingback Ismael Clay broke a double handoff 55 yards to the Cabot 14. Three plays later, he made a 12-yard touchdown catch while falling down in the back of the end zone. That made it 28-7 with 3:01 remaining in the half.

It didn’t take long for Cabot to make the score back up. On the first play, Launius broke loose up the middle, cut to the right and out-raced the Marion defense for an 80-yard scoring run with 2:48 on the clock.

Marion came out passing in an attempt to get back in the game, but the plan didn’t work. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Cabot cornerback Jordan Burke picked off a deep pass at the 43-yard line, and returned it 41 yards to the 2. Jones picked that up on the next play and the extra point made it 42-7 with 1:12 left in the half.

Marion stopped Cabot’s backups on downs after a nine-play drive that stalled inside the 10-yard line thanks to two false start penalties.

Marion took over at its own 7-yard line and went 16 plays to the Cabot 16 before kicking a 33-yard field goal to make it 42-10 with 8:50 left in the game.

Cabot answered with an 11-play touchdown drive. On fourth and 2, Eads was stopped at the line of scrimmage, but kept his feet moving and worked his way loose before scampering 17 yards for the score. Reed’s extra point set the final margin with 2:03 remaining in the game.

Launius finished the first half and the game with six carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Henry had five carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns and Jones had three carries for 60 yards and a score.

Sophomore fullback Colton Eads had 11 carries for 58 yards to lead the Panthers in the second half.

Cabot travels to Mountain Home next Friday. The Bombers are still searching for their first win of the season. They almost got it last night, losing 29-28 to Searcy.