Saturday, November 15, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers fall to Bulldogs

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers’ season came to an end in northwest Arkansas with a 35-14 loss to Fayetteville on Friday in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. The third-seeded Bulldogs scored 21-straight points in the middle two quarters to turn a tie game into a large margin of victory.

Neither team was able to establish much offensively for most of the first quarter, but that changed with two minutes to go when quarterback Kaden Martindale hit Barrett Banister for 78 yards and a touchdown, giving the home team a 7-0 lead.

Cabot answered quickly, putting together a nice drive by picking up yardage in large chunks.

Halfback Jalen Hemphill capped the drive with a 16-yard run on the dive and the extra point tied it with 10:31 left in the first half. Fayetteville answered right back, putting together a 60-yard drive that saw Barrett score from 1-yard out with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter. Cabot couldn’t get going on its next drive, but also stopped Fayetteville and the two teams went into intermission with the home team still up by seven.

Cabot got the ball to start the second half and put together a lengthy, time-consuming drive, but it stalled on downs near the Bulldog 30-yard line.

Fayetteville then gave itself a little breathing room with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Martindale to Garland Allison with 4:54 left in the third quarter.

Cabot couldn’t pick up a first down on its next drive and punted back to the Bulldogs. The home team then scored again, capping a long drive with a 16-yard run by Luke Rapert with 11:19 remaining in the game.

Cabot drove deep into Fayetteville’s territory on the ensuing possession, but was taking a long time in doing so. The Panthers resorted to the pass on the drive to try to conserve time and extend the game. Quarterback Jess Reed finally found Jarrod Barnes for a 15-yard touchdown connection. Christian Underwood’s extra point made it 28-14 with 6:02 left in the game.

Cabot needed a stop but couldn’t get it. Fayetteville sealed the game and set the final margin when Martindale threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this time to C.J. O’Grady from 16 yards out with 2:56 remaining.

Cabot quickly got to the Fayetteville 35, but fumbled it away.

Total yards weren’t that disparate. Fayetteville finished with 339 while Cabot totaled 3-6. The Panthers rushed for 233 and threw for 73. Reed completed 4 of 5 attempts for 37 yards, while Barnes, who was the starting quarterback until suffering a broken thumb in week six, completed a left-handed halfback pass for 36 yards.

Fullback Kolton Eads led Cabot in rushing with 19 carries for 68 yards, while Barnes carried 19 times for 67. Hemphill added five carries for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Fayetteville moves on to play at 7A-Central one seed Conway in the quarterfinal round next week.