Saturday, September 02, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers score 20 unanswered

Leader sports editor

Things didn’t look good early, but the Cabot Panthers kept grinding, and finally grinded their way to a 20-12 season-opening victory over the Pine Bluff Zebras at PBHS on Friday. The Panthers could get nothing going offensively early, but the defense made things hard on the host team as well.

Neither team could score on its first two possessions, but Pine Bluff finally broke the ice with three big plays on its third possession.

The first was a 31-yard run by tailback Braylon Moody to the Cabot 41-yard line. Rod Stinson Jr. then got two passes for 39 yards to the Cabot 2-yard line. Moody got the call from there and scored with 58 seconds to go in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead. Cabot’s Austin Swackhammer blocked the extra point.

Cabot continued to struggle offensively and punted back to the Pine Bluff with about nine minutes left in the half. This time, it didn’t take the Zebras long to strike. Again the pass play went to Stinson on the corner route for another score with 7:31 left in the half. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 12-0.

With the running lanes blocked up, Cabot went to the air on its next possession, and found some breathing room. The Panthers needed just over two minutes to go 65 yards in six plays, with 51 coming on the last one. Quarterback Tommy Oaks found halfback T.J. Rogers open down the sideline after a play action off the counter with 5:12 left in the half. The extra point was no good, leaving the Zebras with a six-point lead.

As dominant as Pine Bluff’s defense was for most of the first half, Cabot’s was even more so in the second. The Zebras did not get a first down on the opening possession of the second half, and the Panthers did.

Cabot’s first possession of the second half resulted in a 10-yard option keep by Oaks for the score with 6:27 left in the third period. The extra point gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 13-12.

Pine Bluff never got anything going, but the defense was still strong.

The two teams continued trading possessions and punts, until Cabot added one last score with 3:45 remaining. It was play action again that got the halfback open.

This time it was Bradley Morales who made the 11-yard catch in the end zone, and the extra point set the final margin.

Pine Bluff finished with 222 total yards, but only managed 38 total yards in the second half. Cabot had 264 total yards.

The Panthers will host their home opener next Friday against El Dorado, a 29-7 winner over Camden-Fairview on Friday.