By Tony Burns
El Dorado couldn’t stop Cabot’s run. So, that’s all the Panthers did.
The Wildcats couldn’t get Cabot off the field Friday night and the Panthers won 27-10 at Memorial Stadium. The game was delayed for an hour for lightning. The Panthers improved to 2-0 on the season while the Wildcats, who have an open date next week, dropped to 1-2.
Cabot had 59 offensive plays and ran the ball on 58 of them for 281 yards. The rushing yards included a 28-yard loss on a fumble. Including the lost yardage, the Panthers averaged 4.8 yards per rushing attempt out of their Dead-T formation.
“It was what I was afraid of,” said El Dorado coach Scott Reed. “We didn’t handle their non-traditional offense and didn’t get them off the field enough. I thought we moved the ball and did some pretty good things. It seemed like we’d have a lost-yardage play or something and then we’d get behind the chains. They’re good. But, we should’ve played better. We didn’t play well enough to win. I think we had two possessions in the second half. It’s hard to win doing that. At the same time, when you get it, you’ve got to do something with it.”
El Dorado’s offense churned out 209 yards on the ground, led by Alex Hicks’ 90 yards on 11 attempts. But, the Wildcats completed just 3-of-13 passes for 62 yards. Hicks was 2-of-12 for 42 with Stuart Bower completed 1-of-1 for 20.
El Dorado won the toss and took the ball to start the game. An 80-yard, nine-play drive was capped by Hicks’ 36-yard touchdown scramble. The junior eluded several defenders down the left sideline, cut back inside the 20 and was pushed into the end zone rugby-style from about five yards out. Greysen Hubbard added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 8:57 left in the first.
The Panthers answered with a 62-yard drive in 13 plays, all on the ground. Brad Morales scored on a 1-yard run. Mason Martin’s PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 2:49 left in the first.
The Wildcats took over after a touchback. Keonte Larry ran for 11 yards to bring up a fourth-and-1. But, a lightning strike cleared the field and the stands. When play resumed, El Dorado drew an offsides penalty on the Panthers for a first down. But, after a lost-yardage rush, Hicks’ pass was intercepted by Cabot’s Zhane Harper.
The Panthers then drove 80 yards in five plays. Graham Turner ran for 30 with a facemask penalty tacked on. On fourth-and-5 from the 31, Cabot’s Tadariyan Rogers found a hole and scooted 31 yards into the end zone. Martin’s kick gave the Panthers a 14-7 lead with 9:32 left in the second quarter.
The Wildcats responded with a scoring drive of their own. Hicks hit Devunte Kidd with a 43-yard swing pass. Shun Levingston converted a fourth-and-1 with a 10-yard gain as El Dorado marched to the Cabot 13. The drive stalled there, however, and Hubbard booted a 34-yard field goal with 5:26 left in the half.
Cabot had just enough time for another scoring drive. The Panthers went 57 yards on 10 plays, aided by a pair of facemask penalties. On third-and-12, Cabot completed its only pass, 10 yards from Jesse Windemaker to Turner. On fourth-and-2, Rogers scored on a 5-yard run. Martin’s kick with 11 seconds left on the clock gave the Panthers a 21-10 halftime lead.
The Wildcats got a defensive stop to start the third but not before the Panthers ran off 12 plays. A fumbled option pitch at the 4-yard line pushed Cabot back to the 32, where it missed on a 49-yard field goal attempt.
But, El Dorado couldn’t climb back into the game, failing on a fourth-and-9 near midfield.
Cabot came back with a 45-yard drive in 12 plays, capped by Windemaker’s 1-yard sneak. The kick failed, leaving the margin at 27-10 with 9:21 left in the fourth.
The Wildcats’ next possession showed promise. Hicks ran for 10 but tweaked an ankle. Bower came in and competed a 20-yard pass to Levingston before Larry ran for 15 to the Cabot 35. But, a false start penalty followed by a sack proved too much to overcome.
Derek Jobe’s 47-yard punt penned the Panthers back at their own 2. But. 11 consecutive running plays would chew up the remaining time off the clock.
Turner led Cabot with 113 yards on 18 carries. Wyatt McMahan ran for 75 on 17 rushes. Rogers ran for 69 on eight attempts.