Saturday, October 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Grizzlies hand Panthers their second-straight 7A-Central loss

Leader staff writer

The scoreboard Friday night showed Fort Smith Northside beat Cabot, 35-21, but the Panthers really beat themselves with five turnovers, an errant long snap and an unsportsmanlike conduct called that caused the ejection of one of their offensive linemen.

The loss will make the Panthers, more than likely, the number five-seed in post-season play, which means they will have to win on the road.

For the Grizzlies, the win guarantees a second seed ranking and home field advantage.

The Panthers started out strong using eight minutes and a power running game captained by quarterback Jarrod Barnes.

Easton Seidl, listed in the program as a linebacker, was Cabot’s top running back, garnering about 100 yards, and the first score of the night, lumbering in from the one-yard line at the 4:30 mark of the first quarter.

An extra point by Mason Martin made it 7-0.

The Cabot defense looked solid early, forcing the Northside Grizzlies to punt.

But when Cabot took over this time, Barnes, who was shaken up during the first drive, was on the bench, and didn’t come back in until the fourth quarter. Cody Skinner was in at quarterback and had the team marching forward. On a second and one from their own 47, Austin Morse broke loose on a pitch out, but fumbled as he was hit 30 yards down field.

The Grizzlies capitalized on the fumble running two identical delayed handoffs to Kedrick Thomas who garnered 17 yards the first play and a touchdown on the second. The extra point tied things at 7 all.

Both teams traded short trips before a Cabot bad snap on a punt gave the Grizzlies the ball on the Panthers’ 19-yard line. The snap flew over the head of Eric Larsen who picked it up at the six-yard line to avoid a safety or an easy Grizzlies touchdown and ran it out to the 19-yard line.

Four plays later, Derrick Wise took it in around the right side for a Southside touchdown at the 2:44 mark.

Cabot countered behind the running of Seidl and Morse, tying it at 14-14.

But Northside went ahead for good with just five seconds left in the half Hunter Pendalton walked it in from the 1-yard line.

Northside was on the receiving end of the second-half opening kick-off and in less than three minutes made the score 14-21 in a six-play, 81 yard drive that was aided by a 15-yard Cabot penalty for hitting the quarterback after he went out-of-bounds.

A highlight for the Panthers came about midway in the second quarter when Dylan Smith nabbed his first interception of the year, stepping in from of Southside’s Greg Washington as the Grizzlies were looking to move the ball from the 45-yard line to the 28.

Cabot, behind that interception, bullied the ball all the way to first and goal at the five before fumbling it away on the 8-yard line. Three plays and 92-yards later, Cabot found itself behind by another touchdown, 14-28.

Things got testy early in the fourth quarter with the officials dropping flags for personal fouls. Cabot offensive lineman Colin Thompson got ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Barnes came back in to quarterback for Cabot in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers fumbled the ball on their own 34-yard line on a fourth down play, so either way Southside got the ball and one play later scored another touchdown. With the extra punt, Cabot was down 14-35.

Skinner was back at quarterback and Cabot scored with less than 40 seconds on the clock on a run by Morris to make the game 21-35.

An onside kick went Cabot’s way as the Panther’s recovered it on the 50-yard line. Barnes got blindsided on the next play even though he was 10-yards from the running play and laying flat on the ground in pain.

The next play was another interception and sealed the game.