SPORTS>> Panthers have easy time of it in Van Buren
Special to The Leader
Once again, the turnover bug infected the Van Buren offense in 7A-Central play and Cabot took advantage.
The Panthers scored on all three Pointer turnovers in the first quarter, building a 35-point halftime advantage, en route to a
49-7 blowout win.
“Everything went right for us in the first half,” said Panther coach Mike Malham. “We get a quick turnover and a score. Our kids played well, but Van Buren struggled with turnovers and we took advantage.”
In five conference games, Van Buren has committed 14 turnovers and 20 for the entire season. Most of those turnovers have been converted into scores.
“(The turnovers) got them the momentum early and a team like Cabot doesn’t need to get momentum early,” said Pointer head coach Mike Lee. “Once they get ahead of you, its an uphill climb.”
Van Buren (2-7, 2-4 7A-Central) has not clinched a postseason berth yet. Thanks to Conway’s 10-7 upset of Russellville, the Wampus Cats can still take the last playoff spot with a win against Catholic and a Pointer loss at North Little Rock next week.
Cabot (8-1, 5-1) can win the 7A-Central next week with a win against Russellville while a loss could drop them to a third seed should Catholic beat Conway.
“We now can start thinking about Russellville,” said Malham. “It is a big game next week. We don’t have to worry about someone else’s. If we win, we know we are the one seed. If we lose, then we have to see where we end up.”
The turnovers started on the first play of the game when receiver Drew White, after catching a David Ostrander pass, was stripped of the ball and Joe Bryant recovered at the Pointer 24. Six plays later, fullback Michael James scored from the 1 for a 7-0 lead with 9:43 left in the opening quarter.
James scored three touchdowns and gained 95 yards in the first half. No Panther starter played in the second half.
On Van Buren’s next possession, Bryant intercepted Ostrander at the Panther 40. Three plays later, halfback Wesley Sowell found a seam and sprinted 41 yards for a touchdown at 7:38. Logan Spry’s kick made it 14-0.
After the Pointers went three-and-out, Cabot hit a big pass play when Seth Bloomberg hit Ben Wainwright for a 45-yard pass to the Pointer 7. James scored on the next play for a 21-0 lead.
The lead ballooned to 28-0 on a 53-yard interception return by Powell Bryant with 2:47 left in the opening quarter.
Cabot’s last first-half touchdown was a 1-yard run by James with 51 seconds left in the half.
The Panthers marched 69 yards in 11 plays.
Cabot played its reserves the entire second half on offense and got a pair of scores.
The Panthers rolled up 367 total yards, 322 of that on the ground.
Van Buren’s lone score came with 1:38 left in the game.