Saturday, September 26, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot gets blowout in third

Leader sports editor

A dominant red zone defense and a few big plays were enough for the Cabot Panthers to roll through North Little Rock on Friday, hammering their host 34-3 at the brand new Charging Wildcat Stadium.

Cabot (4-0, 1-0) had just four possessions in the first half. Two ended in touchdowns, two ended with fumbles. North Little Rock got inside the Cabot 20-yard line three times in the first half and only came away with three points.

“The defense played pretty well and we got some big plays,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “We didn’t sustain much offense tonight, but the Barnes brothers came through for us pretty good. We had the two fumbles in the first half. I’ve been saying we have a chance to be pretty good, but we still have some things to clean up.”

North Little Rock (0-4, 0-1) drove 61 yards on the game’s opening drive, but the Panther defense stopped them at the 19. The Wildcats missed a 36-yard field goal attempt, but Cabot fumbled it away on the ensuing possession.

After forcing a three-and-out, Cabot took the next possession 60 yards in eight plays with fullback Kolton Eads rumbling the last 7 yards for the score. Caleb Schulte’s extra point made it 7-0 with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats drove to the Cabot 14 on the next drive. Linebacker Easton Seidl then tackled Wildcat running back Alex Day for a 1-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, Austin Jones sacked quarterback Trey Cox for a 3-yard loss, setting up a 35-yard field goal that made it 7-3 with 8:23 remaining in the half.

Cabot fumbled on third and 5 on its next possession. The Panthers covered it, but were forced to punt on fourth and 12 from the 44. The Wildcats once again drove to the Cabot 15-yard line, but Cabot held and took over possession with 1:48 left in the half.

The Panthers lined up in the spread formation, and quarterback Jarrod Barnes threw over the top to Austin Nguyen for a 55-yard completion to the North Little Rock 30-yard line. Still in the spread, Barnes kept on the zone read and picked up 25 yards for first and goal at the 5.

After two Eads runs, Barnes got the final yard for a 14-3 Cabot lead going into halftime.

“We’re right there knocking on the door three times in the first half alone,” said North Little Rock coach Jamie Mitchell. “And we just don’t get anything out of it. I’m proud of my kids, though. They played their butts off the whole way. We’re right there. If we can get a little success maybe we can get a little momentum.”

The Wildcats needed to have more success in the first half, because the third quarter was all Cabot.

The Panthers lost 3 yards on the first play of the half, but Barnes kept on the option and went straight up the middle of the field untouched for 77 yards and the score on the next play. The extra point was no good, leaving it 20-3 with 11:04 on the clock.

On the ensuing possession, senior defensive back Holdyn Barnes stepped in front of a Cox swing pass and returned it 37 yards for the score, giving Cabot a 27-3 lead with 9:18 left in the third quarter.

Later in the quarter, sophomore nose guard Dayonte Roberts sacked Cox for a 10-yard loss, forcing the Wildcats to punt from their own end zone.

The punt was short, leaving Cabot with the ball at the Wildcat 38. Two runs and an incomplete pass left Cabot with fourth and 8 and the Panthers went for it.

Barnes dropped back to pass again and was forced to scramble to his right, where he was stopped and wrapped up near the Cabot sideline. But he somehow escaped, reversed field and picked up 10 yards to convert the first down before being dragged down on the North Little Rock sideline.

After a 3-yard run by Jess Reed, Barnes kept again and went 23 yards for the game’s final touchdown.

North Little Rock totaled 262 yards of offense, but only 81 in the second half on six possessions. Cabot finished with 373 yards, with 318 coming on the ground.

Barnes led all rushers with 154 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries. Eads carried 20 times for 87 yards and a score. Day led North Little Rock with 20 carries for 101 yards and caught two passes for 36.

The Panthers host Marion (3-1, 0-1) next week. The Patriots lost 34-21 to West Memphis on Friday.