Saturday, November 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot options way to big win

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers had to overcome a bevy of penalties in the first half and a Jonesboro defense that was determined to clog the inside, and they did so. The Panthers went on the road Friday and beat the upset-minded Hurricane 42-14 despite a slow start.

Jonesboro hung in longer than most teams have against Cabot, especially the other 6A teams in the conference. Cabot led just 14-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, but halfback Dylan Thompson got loose for his second touchdown of the game, a 19-yard run with 1:32 left to send the Panthers into the break ahead by two scores.

Cabot’s first four touchdowns were all on option pitches to the halfback, as Jonesboro tried to make sure that fullback Zach Launius, who entered the game with nearly 1,200 yards rushing already this season, did not have another big night.

They almost did it, but at the price of giving up several big plays after Cabot switched to the option.

Junior fullback Preston Jones scored first for Cabot on the game’s opening drive. With the inside clogged, Cabot was still able to move the ball a few yards at a time to the Jonesboro side of the field. Jones took the counter handoff and went 41 yards for the score.

Jonesboro answered with a touchdown on its next possession, with the help of several defensive penalties against Cabot that kept the drive moving. The Panthers were called for almost everything a defense can be called for. They were flagged for pass interference, defensive holding and personal fouls. The result was a tie game halfway through the first quarter, but the Hurricane didn’t score again until after Cabot had put up 35 unanswered points.

Senior halfback Chris Henry took an option pitch early in the third quarter and ran it in for the score to make it 28-7. Jonesboro had to adjust to try to stop the option, and that’s when Launius began to find room. The senior fullback scored from 7 yards out on Cabot’s next drive, and then broke loose up the middle for a 40-yard scoring scamper early in the fourth period.

Despite Jonesboro’s defensive game plan, the Cabot running game still piled up 316 yards rushing on 36 carries. Launius led the way with 20 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson carried just four times, but for 86 yards and two scores. Jones had four carries for 47 yards and Henry carried six times for 24 yards. Kimbrell had 15 yards rushing and was 0 for 3 passing the ball.

Jonesboro finished with 243 total yards, 115 of it on 12 of 23 passing, as well as 49 rushing attempts for 128 yards.

Despite the big yardage total, Cabot had just six first downs while Jonesboro picked up 13, but four were the result of Cabot penalties.

The Panthers, 9-0, 6-0, finish the regular season next week at Searcy. The Lions are 4-5 and will be fresh off a 35-34 upset of West Memphis on Friday.