Leader Blues

Saturday, September 06, 2008

SPORTS>>‘Backyard Brawl’ No. 1 belongs to the Panthers

By RAY BENTON
For the Leader

Experience usually beats youth, and it did again Friday night in the late-arriving and much-anticipated season opener between Cabot and Jacksonville. The Panthers out-manned the smaller and younger Red Devils to notch a 41-15 victory at Jan Crow Stadium in the newly monickered “Backyard Brawl”.

They did it in typical Cabot fashion, pounding out 397 yards, all on the ground, in beating the Red Devils.

“Our offense played pretty good,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “(The Red Devils) are young but they didn’t give us anything big until there at the end. They have some good sophomores, but they’re sophomores. I don’t know if I’m going to want to play them in a couple of years.”

Jacksonville tried to establish the running game early but couldn’t get anything going. The Devils went for it on fourth and less than a yard from its own 29-yard line, and came up short. Cabot took advantage of the short field, going 29 yards in seven plays with junior quarterback Seth Bloomberg plunging in from one yard out for the first score of the game.

Cabot would score on its first three possessions while Jacksonville went three and out twice after its first drive.

Cabot took the ball again on its own 44 and moved 19 yards on a hand off to fullback Michael James. Two plays later, a fumble led to Jacksonville’s best field position when the Devils fell on the loose ball at the 42-yard line.

From there Jacksonville would put together its best drive of the game, although it took more effort than it probably should have.

Sophomore quarterback Logan Perry found senior receiver Demetris Harris down the right sideline for 27 yards. Senior tailback Patrick Geans then ran four yards to the Cabot 27. Cabot’s Kyle Deblock and Jay Turpin sacked Perry for a 12-yard loss, but he hooked up with receiver Stan Appleby for 32 yards on an inverted screen pass on the next play. The play took the ball to the Cabot 7, but Jacksonville was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for excessive celebration after the play.

That made it first down at the 22, but the Jacksonville bench was flagged again before the snap for arguing the call. That made it first and 25 from the 37-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Perry again hit Harris, this time for 24 yards to set up third and 1. A screen pass to Geans picked up 10 more yards for first and goal. Geans carried it in from there with 6:01 left in the half. A fake kick turned into a pass from Terrell Brown to Tony Privitera to make it 21-8.

“We had some success throwing the ball,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “We wanted to get out there, line it up and try to run it at them. We planned to mix some passing in there and we’re going to do that. Maybe we should’ve done it a little sooner, but you want to protect those sophomores a little bit if you can.”

Whatley’s worries for his sophomore quarterback, who shared time with Brown, weren’t unwarranted. Cabot got six sacks in the game, four on Perry. He still completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 141 yards.

Cabot put the game in the bank with its next two complete drives. Its last drive of the first half took 10 plays and went 63 yards to make it 27-8 with 1:49 left in the half.

The first drive of the second half went 76 yards in 18 plays and culminated in James going 13 yards on fourth and 2 for the score. Josh Luna added one of his five extra points to make it 34-8 with just 3:31 left in the third quarter.

Jacksonville picked up 24 yards on its next drive before being forced to punt. Cabot capped its scoring on the next drive when halfback Chris Bayles scampered 50 yards on his fifth run of the drive. The PAT made it 41-8 with 9:28 left in the game.

Jacksonville added a late score when Geans broke loose for a 76-yard run with 47 seconds left in the game.

James led all rushers with 171 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Bayles tallied 119 yards on 15 carries and one score.

Quarterback Seth Bloomberg ran it 11 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns, including an option keeper he took 36 yards for a score in the first half.

Cabot moves on to face Sylvan Hills next week in its home opener while Jacksonville hits the road to face Vilonia.