SPORTS >>Bryant storms back, dominates Panthers
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
The Cabot Panthers could have used a few lightning bolts Friday night at Bryant, literally. If lightning had struck at about the halfway point of the second quarter and put an end to the game, the Panthers would have been in good shape. Instead, the Bryant Hornets struck lightning numerous times, in the figurative sense, and blew Cabot away 38-14 to keep their unbeaten record intact and stay in first place in the 7A-Central conference.
The Panthers took a 14-0 lead with 7:35 left in the first half on a 75-yard touchdown run by halfback Jordan Carlisle, and from that point it was all Hornets. Bryant scored 10 before halftime, and 28 more in the second half to turn a competitive game into a blowout.
The Panthers had to deal with numerous turnovers and strange calls in the first half, but still managed a 14-10 lead at intermission. Senior Jeremy Wilson got the start for the Panthers in the absence of Seth Bloomberg, who went down last week with a broken collarbone. Sophomore Powell Bryant stepped in for Bloomberg last week, but it was Wilson that got the starting nod, and the uncertainty of playing quarterback for the first time in his high school career against the No. 1 ranked team showed early. Wilson bobbled the first snap of the game, dropped the third snap for a 3-yard loss on third and six, and bobbled the snap on a 34-yard field goal attempt that was no good.
Bryant gave it right back with a fumble on the first snap of the ensuing possession, and Wilsonís played improved. Cabot went the 20 yards needed for the first score of the game in six plays. Jordan Carlisle capped the drive with a 1-yard dive for the score with 4:34 left in the quarter.
Bryant got one first down on its next possession, but three consecutive incomplete passes forced a punt back to the Panthers.
Cabot started on their own 26 and were barreling down the field. Plays of six, 14 and 11 yards were all for naught, as fullback Michael James fumbled on the fifth play of the drive and Bryant recovered on their own 42.
From there the two teams traded three consecutive three and out series.
Cabot finally got past the three-play mark, but Carlisle fumbled on the fourth play and Bryant recovered on the Panther 37.
Cabot was called for pass interference on first down, moving it to the 22, but Bryant didnít gain another yard. On fourth and 11, Bryant attempted a 40-yard field goal that fell short and gave Cabot possession at its own 20.
Michael James went 5 yards on first down, and Carlisle followed with the biggest play of the game to that point. The senior halfback broke through the line on a dive play and outran the Bryant secondary for a 75-yard touchdown. The extra point made it 14-0 with 7:35 left in the second quarter.
Bryant didnít lie down, though, and scored the final 10 points of the half as a precursor for the domination to come in the final 24 minutes.
The Hornets took the ball at their own 35 and drove to the 15 where they settled for a 32-yard field goal with 5:44 remaining in the half.
Cabot failed on fourth and short on its next drive, turning the ball over on its own 33.
On Bryantís first play, Cabot was called again for pass interference. After a rush for minus 4 yards and an incomplete pass, Bryant hit an inverted screen for 22 yards and the score by receiver Tim Floyd. The extra point made it 14-10 with 1:37 left on the clock.
Floyd would become the go-to guy for the Hornets in the second half, scoring the first two touchdowns of the third quarter. After the two teams traded three and out series, Cabot put together a long drive, but came up empty when Blake Carter was tackled for a 4-yard loss on fourth and 9 from the Bryant 22.
Bryant took over from there and struggled for the first two first downs. Quarterback Logan Parker then hit Jake Jackson for 22 yards on a quick throw down the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Parker threw up a jump ball that the 6-foot-4 Floyd easily to give the Hornets their first lead at 17-14 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
With the running game immobile, Cabot took to the air on its next possession, and was picked off on the third play. Ethan Passmore interecepted Wilsonís pass and Bryant took over at the Cabot 30.
A 24-yard pass put it at the 6. After a holding penalty called back one touchdown play to Floyd, Aspen Trevino got the penalty yardage back with a 10-yard reception, and Floyd got his third score of the game on the next play. Austin Bradleyís extra point made it 24-14 with 40 seconds left in the third.
Cabot was forced to punt after another penalty, and Bryant was in cruise control. Starting at its own 49, Bryant went one yard, 28 to Jackson and the final 29 to Taylor Masters who was all alone at the goal line, with 9:58 left.
Bryantís Dijon Benton picked off another Wilson pass on the first play of the ensuing possession, and Bryant put the final score on the board 5 plays later with a 1-yard snaek by Parker with 8:09 left in the game.
Bryant finished with 325 total yards, while Cabot had 260. Parker completed 22 of 41 passes for 268 yards. He was 12 of 16 for 174 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
Floyd led all receivers with 85 yards and three touchdowns on six receptions. Jacksonville finished with eight catches for 83 yards and Masters totaled 74 yards and a score on six catches.
Carlisle led the Panthers with 16 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown. Fullback Michael James finished with 17 carries for 60 yards.
The Panthers are now 6-2 overall and 3-2 in league play. They will host Pine Bluff next week at Panther Stadium. Bryant will travel to North Little Rock.