Little Rock Central gave the Cabot Panthers their best contest in weeks, but the Panthers were able to come out on top with a 35-20 win. Cabot is now 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the 7A/6A-East.
The Tigers showed off an improved passing attack that piled up over 250 yards against the Panthers and their solid secondary.
“They’ve got a lot of athletes over there,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “You can’t ever relax against teams like that.”
Early on, the Panthers looked like they might roll over the Tigers like most of their other games this season.
The Panthers opened the scoring with a short field goal by Trevor Reed, then closed the first quarter with a 23-yard touchdown run from Chris Henry for a 10-0 lead.
The Tigers were responsible for the next nine points, although two of those went to Cabot. Central took to the air for their first touchdown, but got backed up near their end zone on the.following possession and the quarterback stepped out of the end zone for a safety before throwing his pass, giving Cabot a 12-7 lead.
The Panthers scored on the ensuing possession as Zach Launius got his big scoring night started.
Launius carries the load for Cabot, finishing with 196 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns.
Leading 18-7 at halftime, Cabot didn’t score again until early in the fourth quarter. An interception by Brian Marshall gave the Panthers the ball at the Central 31-yard line. Cabot converted a fourth down on the way to Launius scoring from five yards for a 25-7 lead.
After the Tigers scored on a 13-yard pass on fourth down, the Panthers bounced back with a big play from Launius.
Facing fourth-and-three from the Central 42, Malham elected to call for a fake punt. The direct snap went to Launius, who beat the ends to the corner, outran several Tigers and blasted through two more converging on him for the long score.
“We moved it pretty well, but shot ourselves in the foot too often,” Malham said. “On that punt, we just wanted a first down to keep it away from them. But Launius made a great run. He did a good job tonight.”
The Panthers tacked on a 37-yard field goal by Reed in the final seconds to get the 13 points that go toward conference tiebreakers.
Jake Vaughn led Cabot with 15 tackles. He also had an interception. Patrick Neyhart and Brandon Allinder had 11 tackles each. Aaron Henry finished with eight while Brandon Arthur and Tristan Bulice had five apiece.
Cabot will host West Memphis on Friday at Panther Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.