SPORTS >>Wampus Cats dismantle Cabot
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The game started a few minutes early, but by the time Cabot scored it was too late. The Panthers dropped their first game of the season Friday night 30-7 to Conway to open play in the 7A-Central Conference.
Thanks to Cabot turnovers, Conway got a short field and was up 14-0 by the midway point of the first quarter and never trailed.
The Panthers got into the game in the second quarter. Their first touchdown drive almost ended quickly, but sophomore fullback Vince Aguilar got just enough on fourth and two to keep the drive alive.
The Panthers went to the air after that. A 2-yard pass to Clem was followed by another catch by the senior tight end. This time it went for 71 yards and a touchdown as the Conway defender broke late on the ball and left Clem alone downfield for an easy touchdown.
That made it 14-7 with 5:07 left in the half.
Conway went three and out again, but Cabot did the same, only the Panthers were even more generous on the punt attempt. After an intentional grounding penalty backed Cabot up to its own 19, the punt snap sailed high over Fullerís head and out of the end zone for a safety.
That gave Conway a 16-7 lead with 1:58 left in the half.
Fuller blasted the punt from the 20-yard line that left Conway with the ball at the 35. After a 16-yard pickup by Jackson, Cooper hit Jackson for 33 yards, but it was called back.
It didnít matter. Cooper scrambled for 21 on the next play, and hit Pruett for a 31-yard touchdown strike to give the Cats a 23-7 lead heading into intermission.
Cabot put together a very nice drive in the third quarter that went 13 plays from the 35 to the Conway 13, but went backwards three yards from there and missed a 33-yard field goal to come up with nothing for its efforts.
Cabot got one last chance to get into the game with 5:12 left when Conway fumbled again on the Panther 34. The Panthers got a pair of first downs, but the drive stalled when Fuller came up inches short on fourth and two on the Conway 45.
The Wampus Cats sealed and delivered on the ensuing possession. On the back of Baker, who carried five times for all 55 yards of the drive, Conway went up 30-7 with 3:14 remaining.
The Panthers added one more score with 35 seconds left when Wade hit Fuller from 19 yards out to set the final margin.
Cabot committed the first major mistake of the game on the opening drive. After picking up one first down, the Panthers faced third and seven and quarterback Cory Wade threw into coverage. The ball was tipped high in the air and brought down by Conway senior Chris Wardlow.
The Wampus Cats made the Panthers pay, driving 46 yards in just three plays with the help of two Cabot penalties. Isiah Jackson capped the drive with a juking 18-yard jaunt up the middle to give the Wampus Cats the lead with 8:19 left in the first quarter.
Cabot went three and out and punted, but Conway coughed it up for the first time on its next possession, giving the Panthers possession at their own 35.
Two runs gave Cabot third and five when Jake Davis broke wide open 10 yards behind the Conway defense, but the throw was long and Cabot was again forced to punt.
Conway got big yardage early in its next drive when junior fullback Jacob Baker barrelled up the middle for 23 yards on first down.
After another first down, Conway was faced with fourth and four when receiver Lance Amos fumbled on third down.
On fourth down, a quick throw down the line of scrimmage was called, and Cabotís Jordan Sperry broke in front of the receiver, but missed the ball. Conwayís Luke Pruett made the catch and had clear sailing into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown reception.
The extra point by Chris Knight was good and Conway led 14-0 with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
Cabot put together its best drive of the game on the ensuing possession, but fumbled it away again after getting inside the Conway 35.
The fumble came on a pitch from Wade to halfback Jordan Carlisle, and lost seven yards.
Conway took over on the Cabot 43, but was unable to convert a first down and punted the ball away, pinning the Panthers on their own 17-yard line.
Baker led all players with 160 yards on 25 carries. Pruett had three catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns for Conway.
Cooper ran six times for 59 yards and completed 7 of 9 passes for 105 yards and three scores.
Wade led the Panthers with 78 yards on 14 carries. Aguilar finished with 76 yards on 22 rushes.
The Panthers, now 3-1, 0-1, will host Little Rock Catholic next week. The Rockets lost 26-10 to Bryant Friday night. Conway will travel to North Little Rock next Friday. The Charging Wildcats beat Russellville Friday by the same score of 30-14.