Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot gets best of Wolves

Leader sports editor

PEARCY – A few mistakes put just a slight damper on an otherwise dominant performance for the Cabot football team on Monday. The Panthers traveled to Lake Hamilton for a preseason scrimmage and outscored the Wolves 35-7 in a mostly non-game-like format.

Cabot was the better team on both sides of the ball. Lake Hamilton failed to put together any sustained drives, and the Cabot offense only stopped moving forward when it made mistakes.

Cabot’s first-team defense didn’t give up any points, but did fail on a few occasions to get off the field on third-and-long. The second-team defense only had one mishap, but it resulted in a 60-yard touchdown run by Lake Hamilton backup quarterback Juan Jackson.

Cabot defensive coordinator Randall Black didn’t like the big plays, but was pleased overall.

“One thing I’m definitely pleased with is the effort,” said Black. “They came to play. They were on their toes, moving to the football, and they played well for the most part. I didn’t like the big plays. When we have third and 12 and third and 9, we have to get off the field. We lost the quarterback once on a naked bootleg, and we lost contain on a play we had stopped. That’s why we play these scrimmages, so we can spot things like that and get them corrected.”

Lake Hamilton has a new coach and is running a completely different offense from the one run for so long by longtime coach Jerry Clay. The Wolves have gone from a pass-oriented attack to an option offense run out of a flex alignment.

Black said he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when he arrived for the game.

“We knew they had gone to an option style offense, but we really didn’t know what it was,” Black said. “And we didn’t know it was going to be the flex stuff until today. So you have to take that into account. We had no opportunity to game plan and work on it like we would in a game week. Given all that, I’m pretty happy with how we played.”

Backups took the first two drives for both teams, and went against backup defenses. Cabot’s third string played the first drive, while the second string took the second. Lake Hamilton had just two lineups.

For what was called the first half, drives were 15 consecutive plays no matter what happened. Neither offense scored in the first two drives, but Cabot’s second-string defense scored twice on Lake Hamilton’s second set of plays.

Cody Skinner forced a fumble with a huge hit in the backfield, and Justin Nabors scooped it up and ran 65 yards the other way for a touchdown for the first score of the game.

On the Wolves’ last play of its second drive, Bennett Coats sacked Jackson, forcing another fumble, Collin Thames picked it up and ran 30 yards for a score.

On Cabot’s next possession, sophomore fullback Bradley Morales broke a tackle near the Lake Hamilton sideline and outran the rest of the defense for a 70-yard touchdown run.

The starters then took the field with the home team on offense. Cabot stopped the Wolves on downs on its first four plays.

The Panthers forced another third and long, but slot back Michael Deroche picked up 30 yards on a reverse pitch. On the next set of down, Lake Hamilton converted on fourth and 11 when quarterback Dafavioun Haywood turned a busted play into an 11-yard gain.

With two plays left of its 15, Lake Hamilton went to the air twice, and threw two incomplete passes.

Cabot’s first-team offense didn’t take long to score. Two runs by fullback Braxton Burton picked up 7 yards, and Jarrod Barnes got 73 more and a touchdown on the next play, a simple option play to the right that Barnes ran untouched.

After setting up again at the 30, Cabot picked up two more first downs with halfbacks Adam Flores and Austin Morse sharing the carries. Another option was called and this time the Wolves snuffed it out. Barnes made an ill-advised pitch while being pulled to the ground, and the Panthers lost 8 yards.

On third and 15, Barnes threw an interception that forced Cabot to reset back at the 30 with one play left in the drive. Barnes picked up 33 yards on that play.

The second half was two 15-minute periods with the clock running continuously except for timeouts. Cabot’s offense got the ball first at its own 30-yard line. The Panthers put together an impressive 69-yard drive in 14 plays, but Flores took a hard hit at the goal line and fumbled the ball. Lake Hamilton covered it on its own 4.

Two plays later the Wolves faced third and 12 from their own 2, but Haywood picked up 29 yards on the naked bootleg.

Cabot defensive linemen Dayonte Roberts and Chris Jones got back-to-back tackles in the backfield, but Haywood again got out of the third-and-long situation by scrambling for 21 yards on a busted play.

Another third and long resulted in a sack by Dillon Smith and Lake Hamilton punted from the Cabot 46-yard line.

This time Cabot started from its own 20, and in two plays, was at the Lake Hamilton 29. Burton picked up 30 yards before Flores went 21. Two more Burton carries put Cabot at the LH 2-yard line, and Morse punched it in from there for the final score of the night.

Barnes led Cabot with 131 yards and a touchdown on 4 carries. Burton ran 13 times for 126 yards.

Cabot will open the regular season next Friday when it hosts two-time defending Class 6A state champion Pine Bluff.