SPORTS >>Cabot drives over Devils
Leader sports editor
Cabot was favored to beat Jacksonville at home Friday night to open the 2007 high-school football season, but not the way it did. The Panthers plowed through the Red Devils for 35 first-half points en route to a 42-0 victory.
The Panther offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, and Cabot coach Mike Malham couldn’t find much to complain about.
“You didn’t see very many mistakes,” Malham said. “I’m sure there were a lot in there, but the offensive line played really good tonight. We finally have some size down there. We’ve been playing with miniature linemen for the last few years. It’s nice to have some bigger guys up front for a change.”
The Panthers enjoyed a good scoring percentage in the first half. The offense got the ball five times, and scored just that many touchdowns Friday night in an easy season opening victory over Jacksonville.
They got a lot of help from the visiting Red Devils. Jacksonville committed three turnovers in the first half, and stalled on another drive inside the Panther 10-yard line.
Jacksonville got the ball first, and got a first down on the opening play of the season when quarterback Cameron Hood hit receiver Terrell L’Hrisse for a 12-yard gain. After an incomplete pass, a deep pass was overthrown and picked off by Hunter Hess at the Cabot 30-yard line.
The Panthers took over with just 30 seconds gone in the game, and marched the 70 yards needed for the score in 10 plays, consuming four minutes of clock. Sophomore fullback Michael James got the final carry, a nine-yard run up the middle with 7:19 on the clock.
Jacksonville’s next drive started better than the first. This time it was running back Patrick Geans that took the handoff, juked his way into open field and scampered 50 yards to the Cabot 25. Hood saved a third and long by scrambling for a first down, but two incomplete passes and a run for no gain left fourth and 10. Jacksonville tried a quarterback draw, but Hood was hit by sophomore linebacker Spencer Neumann three yards short of the first down at the 8-yard line.
It took the Panthers 14 plays to score from there. They picked up six first downs and only had to convert two third downs. James took the honors of scoring the touchdown again, this time a one-yard plunge to put Cabot up by two scores with 11:56 left in the second quarter.
The Red Devils picked up 23 yards on three plays on their third drive, but the turnover bug bit again.
An out pattern failed to come together, and sophomore safety Joseph Bryant picked off the pass and returned it to the end zone. The touchdown was called back from a block in the back, but Cabot scored two plays later when sophomore quarterback Seth Bloomberg kept on the option for 10 yards and the touchdown.
Steve Lamb’s third extra point made it 21-0 with exactly 10:00 showing on the clock in the second quarter.
The third and final turnover of the half came three plays into Jacksonville’s next drive.
Sophomore nose guard T.J. Bertrand stripped the ball and junior Cody Myers covered at the Jacksonville 35. The Panthers needed just three plays and a 15-yard face mask penalty on the Devils to get into the end zone again. Halfback Jordan Carlisle took honors this time, taking it the final 10 yards with 7:31 left in the half.
Jacksonville got just one yard on its next drive. Hood entered the game to punt after yielding quarterback duties to Thomas Blade for the drive. Hood booted the ball 49 yards to pin Cabot on its own 19. This time the Panthers committed three penalties, but it was going to take more than that to stop the locomotive-type offense that was running the show.
The final scoring drive of the half took 11 plays, and featured Cabot’s only pass attempt of the night. On second and seven, Bloomberg rolled right and hit Bayles on a short screen pass. Bayles took it 23 yards to the Jacksonville 15. Earlier in the drive, Bayles had a 26-yard run. James carried it the final yard with 25 seconds left in the half for his third touchdown of the game.
The second half went by quickly. The Panther second string put together the longest drive of the game, but it came up empty. The drive lasted 16 plays and covered 57 yards, but stalled on downs at the Jacksonville 15.
The Red Devils took over, but committed their fourth turnover of the game on just the second play. Jake Todd covered the loose ball at the Jacksonville 21 with five minutes left in the game. It took eight plays to cover the short distance, and the game’s final score was a six-yard carry by sophomore Matt Bayles with 47 seconds left in the game.
The Panthers racked up 365 total yards with 280 of that coming in the first half. Jacksonville had 165 total yards, with 139 in the first half.
James led all rushers with 93 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns. Bayles led all players in total yards. He carried 10 times for 88 yards and had the one catch for 23 yards to give him 111 total yards. Carlisle carried 10 times for 66 yards and a score.
Jacksonville’s Geans had 102 total yards.
Cabot will travel to Sylvan Hills, who lost 28-12 to Catholic on Wednesday, while Jacksonville will host its home opener against Lake Hamilton, a 48-6 winner over JA Fair.