SPORTS >>Cabot skirts by Lions
By JOHNNY RAY LAKE
Special to the Leader
For the second week in a row, the Cabot Panthers overcame a second half deficit to come away with a victory on the road as Cabot defeated the Searcy Lions 23-16. Vince Aguilar’s second touchdown of the game with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the deciding points in the game.
The fourth quarter seemed to be dominated by the Panthers as they controlled both the clock and the line of scrimmage.
With Aguilar gaining 61 of his 167 rushing yards in the final 12 minutes, Cabot held the ball for more than seven minutes, while limiting the Lions to just less than five minutes and only two possessions to end the game. An interception of Searcy quarterback Justin Rowden by senior Johnnie Stone with 2:55 left ended the Lions hopes of tying the score.
Cabot broke a 16-16 tie on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 24-yard field goal by Alex Tripp. On the next possession, facing fourth and one from the Cabot 46, Rowden snuck up the middle for two yards and a first down. But on the very next play, Rowden’s pass under pressure was intercepted by Ethan Coffee, which led to the go-ahead score for the Panthers.
Cabot got on the board first with an impressive ten play 65-yard march that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Corey Wade to Josh Clem on fourth down and five. Searcy responded with their own ten play drive that led to a 32-yard field goal by Ryan Wilbourn. On the drive, Rowden ran three straight draw plays for 13, 14, and 16 yards. But a holding penalty on brought back a 15-yard touchdown run and Searcy settled for the field goal.
After exchanging punts heading through the second quarter, Cabot took over at their own 34 with 9:35 left in the first half. 13 plays later, Aguilar busted out from the middle of the field down the right sideline for a 27-yard score with 3:48 to go until halftime.
Matt Cramblett broke through to block the extra point, so the score was 13-3 in favor of the Panthers.
Using the sidelines and their timeouts, the Lions went 65 yards in under four minutes to take the lead on a Rowden quarterback sneak with 12 seconds left in the first half. The key play on the 17- play drive was converting on fourth and one on the Cabot 19-yard line. Rather than take the field goal attempt, Adam Robertson ran up the middle for a two-yard gain.
Cabot led Searcy 13-10 at the break.
The Lions took the ball on their own 34 to start the third quarter. On fourth and two on the Panthers’ 41, Searcy failed to convert as Robinson this time was stuffed short of the first down marker.
The ensuing Panthers drive ended in a fumble, and after taking over on their own 37, Searcy faced once again fourth and short in Panther territory. Pressure up the middle forced Rowden to scramble to his right, where he found a wide open Nick Evans on the 6 who then went in for the score.
Cabot returned the favor and blocked the extra point. Cabot then forced the two fourth quarter interceptions to end the Lions’ final two drives.
Aguilar carried the ball 31 times for 167-yards and two scores, with 96 of those coming in the second half as the Panthers offensive line began to wear down the Lions defense. Both teams combined to convert five of six fourth down plays, with Cabot going two for two, and Searcy converting three of four. Both teams scored six of their points on fourth down.
When asked how important it was that his team responded quickly to the Searcy scores, Cabot head coach Mike Malham said ”Yes, that and the fact we didn’t turn the ball over in the fourth were the key factors in the game. “Searcy is always a tough place to go and win on the road, he added.
The Panthers will travel to archrival Conway next week to open up play in the 7A-East Conference.