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BENTONVILLE 39, CABOT 28| Panthers lose in 7A title game

Cabot’s Chris Henry and Jake Ferguson celebrate after Henry caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from fullback Zach Launius for the Panthers’ first score of the Class 7A state championship game in Little Rock. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)
Cabot’s Chris Henry and Jake Ferguson celebrate after Henry caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from fullback Zach Launius for the Panthers’ first score of the Class 7A state championship game in Little Rock. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

LITTLE ROCK — Cabot’s third state title under coach Mike Malham will have to wait.

The Panthers lost to Bentonville, 39-28, in the Class 7A state championship game on a cold and rainy Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.

It wasn’t that Cabot (12-1) didn’t have some chances. The Panthers were up 14-13 at the end of the first half.

How they got there was with some trickeration and the solid running of senior Zach Launius.

First the trick play. Launius threw for a 14-yard fullback pass to senior Chris Henry. The Trevor Reed kick was good. Every Reed extra point was successful.

Bentonville followed with its first touchdown of the night, but Cabot wasn’t down and after quarterback Kason Kimbrell hit Jacob Ferguson for a 22-yard reception. Launius took it in from 1-yard out to put Cabot up 14-10.

Bentonville hit its second field goal of the night to make it 14-13 at the half.

The Panthers had two drives that were stopped by fumbles in the second half before Launius scored from four yards for his third total touchdown of the night.

Launius added another touchdown late in the fourth quarter for Cabot.

Launius, in his final high school game, rushed 39 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw one pass, that was complete and for a touchdown. For the season, Launius rushed for nearly 2,100 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Bentonville, in its fourth consecutive title game, claimed its second championship behind the play of sophomore quarterback Kasey Ford, the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Ford passed for 265 yards on a 11 for 18 night.

Bentonville (11-2)) didn’t lose to an in-state team this season, as the losses were to Texas and Oklahoma high schools.

Other notable performers for Cabot were: Chris Henry who had 76 yards rushing on eight carries and three receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. Kimbrell, a senior, was six-for-seven for 72 yards passing.

Jacob Ferguson led Cabot with 12 tackles, while Colby Ferguson added eight. Jordan Burke, Aaron Henry and Jake Vaughan all had five tackles on the night.

Cabot’s Heath Pledger was the game’s Burlsworth Award winner, while Jackson Hannah claimed the honor for Bentonville.

Attendance for the game was 4,232 and the crowd appeared to be mostly Cabot folks.

“Things just didn’t go our way,” Malham said. “You don’t get do-overs. The two turnovers we had were the difference in the ball game. That’s an 11-point difference.”

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