SPORTS >>CJHN beaten by Wolves in championship
By JASON KING
Leader sports writer
Pearcy— Cabot North’s hopes for a perfect season all came down to a fourth-down quarterback keep by Seth Bloomberg at the Lake Hamilton 2-yard line during overtime. The Wolves had just taken their first lead of the contest 20-14 during the opening possession in the OT, but missed their two-point conversion. That left the window open for Cabot, but the LH defenders closed it, stopping Bloomberg half a yard short of the end zone to claim the outright Central Arkansas Jr. High Conference title.
North took the advantage early in the game, with a pair of first half touchdowns. But what was three yards and a cloud of dust for the North offense in the first half became minus three yards and a hazy fog in the second half courtesy of a much-improved Wolves’ defense.
Lake Hamilton also looked like a completely different team offensively in the last half. Wolves tailback D.J. Bell found holes in North’s defensive interior, picking up 57 yards on 14 carries in the second half for all three LH touchdowns.
Bell was both savior and slaughterer for the Wolves in the second half.
He saved the day with the three touchdown runs, including the game-winning score in OT, but also put Lake Hamilton in volatile situations with a fumble at mid field late in the fourth quarter, and slipping on the two-point conversion attempt after scoring the go-ahead TD.
Cabot struck first in the conference-title matchup, with 12-yard TD from Bloomberg on a quarterback keep midway through the first quarter. Michael James ran in the two-point attempt to put North ahead 8-0.
The North defense stopped Lake Hamilton dead in its tracks in the first half.
The Wolves came away with only 37 yards of total offense for the first two quarters, despite four completed passes out of six attempts for LH quarterback Benson Jordan.
The Panthers also had Bell’s number early on, holding him to four yards rushing in the first 16 minutes.
North’s second-quarter drive took up most of the frame, with a five-minute-long march down the field that was capped off by another TD scramble from Bloomberg, this time around the right side from nine yards out. An offsides penalty against the Panthers moved them back on the two-point attempt, and they were not able to convert. That would set the halftime score at 14-0.
It was obvious from the opening drive of the second half that the momentum had overwhelmingly changed hands.
Cabot had opening possession in the second half, but was held to only four yards off of three rush attempts from James. With the ball on their own 24-yard line, the Panthers had no choice but to punt it away.
That’s when Bell took over. The speedy running back moved the Wolves downfield with six carries totaling 35 yards, including the three-yard touchdown run with 3:32 left in the third quarter. Jordan also got things going in the air for the Wolves, with two completed passes for eight yards and 20 yards respectively. The two-point attempt was successful, and the Wolves found themselves down by only a score.
Cabot’s next drive was even more disastrous. A miscue on a toss from Bloomberg to James on third down resulted in a loss of seven yards, and forced another punt.
Lake Hamilton took over at its own 47-yard line, and went the distance in nine plays. Bell’s one-yard TD run with 6:58 left in the game was set up by a 17-yard pass completion from Jordan to Addison Wynne to give the Wolves first and goal. The Wolves’ two-point attempt was negated by an offensive offsides penalty, leaving the score tied at 14 all.
A last-minute drive for Cabot ended when time expired with the Panthers driving at the Wolves’ 24-yard line.
A final toss to the end zone from Bloomberg to James fell incomplete as the horn sounded, and the two teams prepared to fight it out in OT.
Cabot won the overtime toss and chose to defend first, giving Lake Hamilton first possession. It only took a pair of five-yard runs from Bell to put the ball in the end zone to give the Wolves their first lead of the game. Bell made a critical error on the two-point attempt, however. After taking the handoff from Benson, he slipped as he attempted to cut to the left and fell at the 2-yard line.
A pair of runs from Spencer Neumann got the ball to the LH 4-yard line on Cabot’s overtime drive, but he fumbled the next handoff and had to fall on the ball at the 2-yard line.
Bloomberg called his own number on the final play, but the Wolves caught him as he ran to the left side and dropped him at the 1 to end the game.
Cabot finished the game with 128 yards of total offense. Lake Hamilton had 185 all-purpose yards, 148 of which came in the second half. The loss gave North a final record of 9-1. It was the first loss for the Panthers in 19 games.