Saturday, October 14, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers blow two TDs, lose to Tigers

By ANN THARP Special to The Leader

The Cabot Panthers traveled to historic Quigley Stadium in Little Rock Friday night to face the Central High Tigers. The Panthers were trying to regroup after a week six loss to Conway, but were unable to do so, falling to Central at Bernie Cox Field by a score of 16-14, making their overall record 4-3 and 7A Central conference record 2-2. The Tigers improve to 2-5 and 1-3.

The score was tied at seven at the end of one period, but Central took the lead on the first play of the second with a field goal, and then added a touchdown right before intermission for a 16-7 halftime score.

Only one touchdown went on the scoreboard in the second half, and it was scored by Cabot. The Panthers also had a touchdown called back by a penalty.

“It was a good offensive ballgame,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “The difference was our turnovers. Turnovers and penalties was the difference there. We just didn’t do the little things right to help us win. They’ve got some athletes. We had trouble containing them a little bit. They did what it took to win. It was a good ballgame if you just want to see a good high school game. Both teams moved the ball. It was a close game, and it went down to the wire. You couldn’t ask for a better ballgame. It’s just that the Panthers didn’t win, that’s the problem.”

Central had the first possession of the game and had to start on their own 7-yard line as Ben McCullough’s kick off was mishandled at the goal line and only returned to the 7. From there, though, the Tigers drove the 93 yards in 12 plays to take the 7-0 lead with 9:30 remaining in the opening period.

Cabot quarterback Tommy Oaks returned the ensuing kick off to the 37-yard line, and the Panthers answered with an 8-play, 63-yard scoring drive. Oaks had a 33-yard carry on the drive, and Adam Flores, returning from injury, finished the drive with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone to tie the score at 7-7 with 5:33 to go in the quarter.

Central then started on its own 29 and moved the chains four times before stalling and facing fourth and eight. On the first play of quarter number two, Keeling Baker kicked a 36-yard field goal to give the Tigers the 10-7 edge.

The Panthers were moving the ball down the field, picking up four first downs of their own, when after running for 18 yards, Ayden Shurley lost the ball, and Central recovered.

The Tigers drove to the Cabot 8-yard line, but quarterback Jacob Howard was intercepted in the end zone by Lucus Crumbly.

Oaks completed a 21-yard pass to Shurley, then ran for 16 yards before he ran again from 30-yard line for an apparent touchdown, but dropped the ball at the 2-yard line. Central recovered in the end zone to end the threat.

The Tigers scored again with 0:35 to go in the half on a 34-yard completion from Howard to T.J. Pennington, but the point after hit the upright and bounced away, leaving the score 16-7.

Cabot had the ball first in the second half. The Panthers had moved from their own 24 to the Central 34-yard line when T.J. Rogers took a pitch from Oaks and ran into the end zone, only to have the score erased by a flag that was thrown.

Cabot did score on its next drive, only needing four plays to move 80 yards, the last 59 on a touchdown scamper by Rogers, this time with no flags, and on the last play of the third period. McCullough added the extra point, and the score was 16-14.

An interception in the end zone by Austin Swackhammer thwarted a long drive by the Tigers and gave the Panthers one final possession with less than three minutes to play. Cabot was moving the ball down the field with time running out when the ball was knocked out of Oaks hand as he was about to pitch it. Central recovered with 0:23 and the final score was set at 16-14.

Cabot had 370 yards of total offense, while the Tigers had 438.

Rogers led the Panthers in rushing with 11 carries for 110 yards and had one reception for 19 yards. Oaks rushed 11 times for 95 yards and passed for 40 yards.

Cabot will host Bryant next Friday night.