Saturday, September 20, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers cruise against War Eagles, as expected

By ANN THARPSpecial to The Leader

When Cabot traveled to Class 5A J.A. Fair’s War Eagle Stadium Friday night, it was expected that the Panthers would dominate for a lopsided victory.

The Panther’s offense had 319 yards from scrimmage and an 88-yard punt return for a 41-0 victory, while holding Fair to 44 yards form scrimmage.

“They’re struggling right now,” said Cabot head coach Mike Malham. “They’re playing a lot of young kids, and they’ve got a new coach that’s doing the right things. Next year when we play them it’s not going to be near this easy. They’re going to get better. They’ve got some good players, and they played hard.

“Our kids are playing good right now. We had a great win against Catholic last week, a good close one against Conway, had a chance to win it, didn’t. Next week is going to be a big one. North Little Rock comes to our place, and usually the winner of that game has a pretty good chance to win the conference. We’ve got to go to the practice field, keep improving, and hopefully next week we can play with that team from North Little Rock that has probably the best talent in the state.”

Fair had the first possession of the ball game on their own 10-yard line. That did not last, as they fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. Tristan Bulice recovered for the Panthers on the 5-yard line. Jalen Hemphill carried to the one-yard line, and Jess Reed scored the touchdown from there. The extra point try by Christian Underwood was no good, and Cabot led 6-0.

The War Eagles were helped on their next drive by a roughing the kicker penalty, but the Panther defense stiffened, and a big hit by Bulice forced another punt.

Kolton Eads had a 29-yard run, and Cabot quarterback Jarrod Barnes picked up 13 yards on a fourth and five on the next Panther possession. Barnes hit Jake Ferguson for a 27-yard touchdown pass to complete the drive. Again, the PAT was no good, and the lead was 12-0 with 1:15 to go in the first quarter.

Logan Melder set up the next Cabot score with a pass interception on the Fair 14-yard line. Eads carried to the 2-yard line, into the end zone for the touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion. The Panther lead was now 20-0.

After the defense forced another Fair punt, Barnes carried on a keeper on the first play from scrimmage for a 42-yard touchdown scamper. Eads again added the two-point conversion and the lead grew to 28-0.

Ferguson dropped the next War Eagle punt, but picked it up and returned it 88 yards for another Panther touchdown. Michael Villanueva kicked the extra point for a 35-0 Cabot advantage.

The sportsmanship rule was in effect the second half, so with the clock running, the Panthers only had two possessions and the War Eagles one. On Cabot’s first, quarterback Braxton Burton led the team, and runs by several new backs, including a 17-yarder by Brock Bottorff, and a 16-yarder by William Niles, took the ball to the Fair 1-yard line before a fumble turned the ball over to the War Eagles.

The next Panther drive started on the Fair 45-yard line. The offense picked up three first downs, and on second and goal from the 5, Spencer Nickell carried the ball in for the score. The extra point was blocked, setting the margin at 41-0 as the clock expired.

Eades had 79 yards, one touchdown, and two two-point conversions. Barnes had 61 yards, one rushing touchdown and passed for a touchdown. Ferguson had the receiving touchdown and the punt return for touchdown.

Next week’s game against the Charging Wildcats will be at Panther Stadium at 7:00.