The Cabot Panthers are headed to Bentonville for the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs.
Trailing 21-20 at halftime, the Panthers outscored Springdale 23-0 in the second half to beat the Bulldogs 43-21 in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs. Cabot is now 6-5 on the season.
The game was a track meet in the first half.
Springdale took a 7-0 lead with 9:03 left in the first quarter. Darrell Parchman scored on a 1-yard run.
Cabot wasted no time tying the game at 7-7. T.J. Rogers scored on a 75-yard run with 8:52 left in the quarter. Ben McCullough kicked the extra point.
Cabot took a 14-7 lead on its next possession when Noah Sorrell scored on a 68-yard run with 7:04 left. McCullough kicked the extra point.
Springdale tied it at 14-14 on a 3-yard run by Garrett Vaughan with 6:31 left in the first half.
Cabot took a 20-14 lead when quarterback Tommy Oaks broke away for a 56-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left in the half. The extra point was no good.
Springdale took the lead at 21-20 on a 39-yard pass from Layne Hutchins to Alex Thompson with 3:53 left in the half.
The Panthers, under backup quarterback and starting defensive end Cody Skinner, took a 23-21 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Mason Martin with 7:47 left in the third quarter.
Cabot pushed its lead to 30-21 when Dalton Crumbly returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown with five minutes left in the third quarter. Martin added the extra point.
The Panthers scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to account for the final score. Bradley Morales scored on a 5-yard run with 7:02left. The two-point conversion failed.
Skinner scored on a 1-yard run with 5:48 left. Martin kicked the extra point.
Cabot coach Mike Malham said it was a pleasant surprise how his team played in the second half, especially the defense.
“We were without our starting quarterback,” he said. “We were without one of our starting halfbacks [Sorrell]. The defense had four interceptions with two in the second half.
“It’s nice to see the defense step up and put a couple of scores on the board.”
Malham said his offense still sputtered at times like it has much of the season.
“We had a lot of opportunities but shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “Sometimes in the second half, we’d have good field position then do something to back ourselves up. But the kids played hard.
“Anytime you get a win in the playoffs, that’s a bonus.”
Rogers led Cabot with 219 yards rushing on 16 carries. Oaks had 75 yards on four carries. Sorrel had 72 yards on two carries. Morales had 68 yards on five carries.
Skinner completed 1 of 3 passes for 10 yards. Rogers caught the lone pass.
Cabot’s defense intercepted Springdale four times. Getting picks were Zhane Harper, Crumbly, Jessie Windemaker and Bryce Billings.
Crumbly led Cabot with 17 tackles. Justin Holland had 16. Harper had 13. Bryce Billings had eight.
The Bentonville Tigers are 8-2 on the season, having won the 7A-West. They are coached by Jody Grant. Their two losses were to Kansas City Rockhurst in the season opener and Conway in Week 3. They went 7-0 in league play.
“Now, we get to go play the No. 1 team in the west,” Malham said. “If you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Hopefully, we’ll have a good week of practice and the kids have a good frame of mind and go up there and be ready to play hard.”
Kickoff is Friday night at 7 p.m.