SPORTS >> Panthers roll on against Charging Wildcats
Leader sports editor
A familiar look helped the Cabot Panthers to what has become a familiar outcome so far this season.
The No. 2 Panthers welcomed back senior fullback/linebacker Michael James and got two, second-half scoring drives to hold off the No. 4 North Little Rock Charging Wildcats 17-6 in North Little Rock on Friday.
James, beset by injuries this season, gained 41 yards and scored a touchdown on his first carries of the year and Logan Spry bounced back from two first-half misses with a 21-yard field goal to lock it up with 1:27 to go.
“You don’t have to have the best athletes, you have to have players who work hard and have teamwork and they’re pretty good about that,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said of the Panthers.
The victory kept the Panthers perfect on the season and in the 7A-Central Conference at 6-0, 3-0. North Little Rock falls to 4-2, 2-1.
“I feel good because we’ve already played Catholic and now North Little Rock and they’re some of the best in the conference, but we’ve got what, four more?” Malham said. “Anything can happen.”
The Panthers led 7-0 at halftime on James’ 1-yard touchdown run, but North Little Rock’s Tim Johnson opened the third quarter with a 74-yard kickoff return and the Charging Wildcats scored on Johnson’s 8-yard run. But Logan Bussard kicked his extra point off the left upright to leave it at 7-6 with 8:32 to go.
The Panthers survived a Wildcats march that ended on incompletions at the Cabot 27 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Two different times our defense held up down there,” Malham said. “That was big.”
Cabot then drove 72 yards to score on Hunter Sales’ 3-yard run with 7:28, picking up a first down on Seth Bloomberg’s 30-yard completion over the middle to Rod Quinn.
“Old Rod, he’s a weapon. He’s done a good job for us the last two games,” Malham said.
Jared Dumais sacked Issac Kelley to end North Little Rock’s next possession in four plays, and after the punt the Panthers marched for Spry’s field goal, and Spry then broke up the Wildcats’ final, desperation pass attempt with 33 seconds left.
James, a senior who rushed for close to 1,300 yards last year and 1,700 the year before, has missed most of the season with shoulder and ankle injuries but picked up 11 yards on his first carry of the season, then gained a hard yard and limped off a play later.
James later banged in from the 1 for a touchdown with 13 seconds left.
“He’s been there,” Malham said. “And he wants to play so bad.”