Saturday, September 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot finds way to win at Catholic

Leader sports editor

Cabot overcame four fumbles and a stingy Catholic defense to defeat the Rockets 40-33 in overtime Friday at War Memorial Stadium. The Panthers scored on two big plays in the first quarter that led to a 26-14 halftime lead, but needed a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter to tie the game at 33-33. Defenses dominated the fourth quarter, and Cabot made a defensive stand in overtime to hang on for the victory.

“This game had everything,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “If you’re just a spectator, this was a great high school football game to see. It could’ve gone either way. We were just fortunate we were the ones that got the win. Catholic could’ve given up when we jumped out on them, but they didn’t quit. Like I said, we were very fortunate tonight.”

Catholic won the toss heading into overtime and elected to go on defense. Cabot started at the Catholic 10-yard line, and sophomore halfback Adam Flores picked up 7 yards on first down. Senior fullback Kolton Eads did the rest, barreling forward for 2 yards on second down, and 1 more on third down. Cabot’s Caleb Schulte made the extra point to put Cabot ahead 40-33.

Catholic took possession at the Cabot 10, and lost 6 yards when junior Colin Thompson stopped Catholic running back Lance Harville-Thomas on a Wildcat handoff. After two incomplete passes, Catholic faced fourth and goal from the 16-yard line.

Quarterback Andre Sale dropped back to pass but couldn’t find an open receiver. A huge hole opened up in the middle of the field and Sale made a break for the end zone. But senior lineman Lino Garcia made a diving, shoestring tackle at the 6-yard line to seal the victory for the Panthers.

“The defense stepped up in the fourth quarter,” Malham said. “We scored a defensive touchdown. They scored a defensive touchdown. It was a great game, but it was the kind that’ll put a few more gray hairs on my head.”

Cabot led 26-14 at halftime, but the Rockets scored three touchdowns in a span of less than three-and-a half-minutes in the third quarter to take a 33-26 lead. The first was on a 10-yard pass play from Sale to Taylor Price that capped a nine-play drive with 8:36 left in the third quarter. Cabot turned it over on downs at the Catholic 44 on the ensuing possession, and Sale hit Thompson O’Lainey on the very next play to tie the game at 26-26.

Cabot started at its 20 and Flores went 23 yards on first down, but quarterback Jarrod Barnes made an ill-advised pitch as he was being tackled on an option play, and Catholic’s Jared Allison scooped it up and raced 42 yards for the touchdown. This time the extra point was good, giving the Rockets a 33-26 lead that lasted only 15 seconds.

Catholic Andrew Rodriguez had put all but one kickoff into the end zone, but left this one short at the 10-yard line, where Holdyn Barnes caught it and raced 90 yards down the visitors’ sideline for the score.

He received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for beginning to celebrate at about the 20-yard line. The penalty was assessed on the kickoff, but field position didn’t matter for the rest of regulation, as neither offense could get anything going until overtime.

Flores had two carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns just five minutes into the game, but Cabot missed a PAT and a two-point conversion failed, leaving Cabot with a 12-0 lead with 7:21 left in the first quarter.

The Rockets took over on their own 34 and drove that distance in 11 plays, converting two fourth downs in the process, including one by getting Cabot to jump offsides. Catholic’s Josh Pinter got the last 3 yards of the drive on first and goal when he was left all alone in the right corner of the end zone. The extra point was good, making it 12-7 with 3:10 left in the first quarter.

Jarrod Barnes fumbled on the first play of the next drive, and Catholic’s Jensen Chier covered it at the Cabot 21. It took six plays from there, including another fourth-down conversion, for the Rockets to get into the end zone.

Harville-Thomas went up the middle for the final 6 yards for the score, and the extra point gave Catholic a 14-12 lead with 1:09 left in the first quarter.

Cabot continued to struggle on offense on its next three drives, totaling -6 yards in nine plays, but the defense came through to reclaim the lead for the Panthers. Facing third and 14 from its own 9-yard line, Sale threw under pressure right to Cabot cornerback Holdyn Barnes, who returned it 22 yards for the score with 7:32 remaining in the half.

“Holdyn had a big game for us,” Malham said. “Those were two big plays he made when we needed it.”

Cabot forced a punt and finally put together its first sustained drive of the game. The Panthers went 68 yards with the help of two pass interference penalties that moved the ball from the Catholic 45 to the 15. Two runs by Jarrod Barnes later, Cabot led 26-14 and missed another extra point to set the halftime score.

Cabot fumbled four times, including three by Barnes, after five fumbles last week, with four by the junior quarterback.

“We’ve got to do something about that,” Malham said. “When you fumble you cost yourself an opportunity, and you give the other team an extra one. We made a lot of mistakes.”

Cabot finished with 270 yards, 258 on the ground. Flores led the way for the second week in a row. He finished with 10 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

Catholic had 324 yards, including 205 passing and 119 rushing.