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Panthers rout Lions, finish regular season at 10-0

Cabot’s Zach Launius is brought to the ground by an illegal horse collar tackle against Searcy on Friday. (Photo by Diana Cantey)
Cabot’s Zach Launius is brought to the ground by an illegal horse collar tackle against Searcy on Friday. (Photo by Diana Cantey)
Cabot’s Spencer Gilchrist (18) and Brian Marshall slow down Searcy quarterback Andrew Neaville during Friday’s game. (Photo by Diana Cantey)
Cabot’s Spencer Gilchrist (18) and Brian Marshall slow down Searcy quarterback Andrew Neaville during Friday’s game. (Photo by Diana Cantey)

The Cabot Panthers had another dominant win Friday night — this one 44-14 at Searcy — to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and the top seed from the 7A/6A-Central.

Winning the conference gives the Panthers a bye in the first round of the playoffs this week. Cabot will have home field advantage throughout, and awaits the winner of the Fayetteville vs. Little Rock Central matchup.

While the score still indicates the Panthers blew out the Lions, it could have been much worse. Cabot was utterly dominant through most of the first half, surging ahead 31-0 in the second quarter and 37-7 by halftime.

Cabot came out a little flat in the second half and didn’t invoke the mercy rule like they have in many games this season. Meanwhile, Searcy showed they had some fight left by playing Cabot evenly over much of the second half. Hard to blame the Panthers for easing up a bit after putting up 37 early points and knowing they were about to be 10-0 and conference champs.

For a team who’s offense is based around picking up three yards and a cloud of dust, the Panthers have been a team of big plays all season long.

Cabot used those big plays during the first half, scoring their first touchdown after two plays. After the defense stuffed Searcy, Cabot quarterback Kason Kimbrell picked up 14 yards, then watched Chris Henry take off for a 40-yard touchdown for the quick lead. Henry scored again on the next Cabot possession, finding the end zone from three yards out. Zach Launius helped set up the score with a 32-yard run into the red zone.

The Panthers took a 21-0 lead when Kimbrell found Jake Ferguson for a 39-yard gain that helped set up Kimbrell for a two-yard plunge. Preston Jones got the call for Cabot on the next possession, racing 75 yards before being caught at the Searcy 11-yard-line. Jones’ next carry was an 11-yard touchdown to move the Panthers ahead 28-0.

With just over two minutes left in the first half, there was still more scoring to do. Trevor Reed kicked a 36-yard field goal, followed by Searcy finally getting on the board with a long kickoff return for a touchdown that made the score 31-3. With time still left in the half, Kimbrell hit Ferguson for a 60-yard gain down near the Searcy goal line, then found Henry for another three-yard touchdown and the 37-7 lead at halftime.

The second half was far less exciting, although Launius did break loose for a 50-yard touchdown. Launius finished with 114 yards on 12 carries, while Jones rushed for 94 yards and a score. Ferguson went over the century mark receiving — a rarity for Cabot — finishing with 105 yards on three receptions.

Patrick Neyhart led Cabot with 15 tackles. Colby Ferguson and Brandon Arthur had 11 tackles each. Brian Marshall and Aaron Henry had nine apiece.

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