Leader Blues

Saturday, September 30, 2006

SPORTS >>Extra point wins it for Panthers in overtime

IN SHORT: Catholic missed an extra point in overtime, and Cabot made its own to beat the Rockets.

Leader sports writer

After five quarters, the difference in Friday night’s 7A-Central matchup between Cabot and Little Rock Catholic at Panther Stadium came down to extra-point attempts in overtime.

The Panthers made theirs; the Rockets missed.

Cabot took their first conference win of the season in dramatic fashion 14-13 in overtime against Catholic. The two defenses matched feats repeatedly in the contest, including back-to-back blocked field goals and trading interceptions on two different occasions.

The difference in the game turned out to be a squibbed extra-point attempt in overtime from Catholic kicker Nathan Ashburn. Ashburn had been blocked by Cabot senior linebacker Michael Rowlett on two previous attempts, and looked very gun shy as he ran up to holder Reid Thomas. Rowlett closed in on the hold once more, but no block was necessary this time. Ashburn booted the ball straight up in the air, just over the Panther line, not even making it to the end zone.

Cabot junior Steve Lamb missed the opportunity to seal the game for Cabot at the end of the fourth quarter, going wide-left on a 33-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds left in regulation. Lamb would ultimately redeem himself, after Colin Fuller ran in the game-tying score on Cabot’s third play from scrimmage in overtime, splitting the uprights for the point needed to seal the win.

“Anybody could have won that game,” Panthers coach Mike Malham said. “Catholic fought hard, we fought hard; it was pretty evenly matched. We were both 0-1, so whoever lost was going to be out of the conference race. This keeps us in the conference race; we’re still alive.”

The first score of the game did not occur until the 7:12 mark of the third quarter, when Catholic quarterback Thomas hit sophomore receiver John Springer in the middle of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Cabot safety Brian Frey read the pass, but could not make up the step Springer had on him to bat it away. Frey’s marks all came in the first half, taking down Catholic bulldozer running back La’Norris Dukes for losses, and breaking up a critical pass on third down during the Rockets’ opening drive.

Cabot went to the air for its only TD in regulation as well. Panthers quarterback Cory Wade found Colin Fuller on the left side after scrambling for his life in the backfield. Fuller took the pass near the 8-yard line and plowed his way along the sideline into the end zone for the 12-yard touchdown play at the 10:45 mark of the fourth quarter.

Each team traded possessions two more times in the fourth until Cabot ended up with the ball on their own 42-yard line with less than two minutes remaining. Fuller rumbled again, this time to the Rockets’ 19 as precious seconds ticked away.
Wade took one last shot at the end zone, but was forced to throw it away under pressure. That left the win in Lamb’s hands with a 33-yard FG attempt. He put plenty of foot into it, but sliced it just left of the crossbars, forcing overtime.

Catholic took first possession in overtime, and wasted little time converting. Thomas hit tight end Jake Bequette on the first play from scrimmage in the extra quarter for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Ashburn then eeked out his timid kick, leaving Cabot with a window to take the come-from-behind win.

Fuller jumped through that window very decisively with an eight-yard run up the middle to tie the game. Lamb then promoted himself from zero to hero with the perfect point-after kick to end the game.

The first half was the epitome of a defensive struggle. Both teams moved the ball well enough offensively, but had trouble once the football made it into the red zone. The Rockets made it down to the Panther 5-yard line, but the drive stalled from there. Ashburn attempted a 25-yard field goal, but Rowlett just said no to three points for Catholic with a full block of Ashburn’s kick.

Cabot’s opening drive also resulted in a field-goal attempt, but Catholic linebacker Zach Sebo batted Lamb’s 35-yard attempt out of the air, giving possession back to Catholic.

The Panthers’ defense skirted any and all tricks Catholic had up its sleeve in the first half, including a fake punt with 5:54 left in the second quarter. Thomas took the snap from setback instead of the ball going to punter Ashburn. Panther defenders Rowlett and Chris Blundell were not fooled however, and took Thomas down for no gain.

Both teams also traded interceptions in the first half. Wade brought the first pick down for Cabot with a leaping catch at the Rockets’ 46-yard line. Wade then returned the favor a couple of possessions later when he threw into coverage trying to find Fuller on a screen. Bequette snagged the pass to give Catholic the ball near midfield.

Cabot finished with 238 yards of total offense, compared to 225 for Catholic. Fuller carried 10 times for 51 yards and a touchdown, and also caught a pass for a TD. Aguilar carried 14 times for 44 yards. For Catholic, Dukes had 25 rushes for 93 yards.

The Panthers will try to make it two conference wins in a row next week when they travel to Little Rock Central to face the undefeated Tigers.