Bentonville storms to 7A title over Cabot, 39-28
Posted: December 13, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.
Bentonville held Cabot scoreless for much of the second half and pulled away for their third state championship since 2008 with a 39-28 victory in the Class 7A state championship game in War Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The Tigers (11-2) outscored the Panthers (12-1) 26-14 in the final two quarters of the game, turning more attention to their running attack and taking advantage of two Cabot fumbles early on to give coach Barry Lunney another state title.
Though neither team could sustain much offensively in the games’ opening quarter, with the teams combining for two punts and three points — a 21-yard Bennett Moehring field goal — which gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 38 seconds left in the quarter.
The first touchdown of the game came midway though the second quarter on a 14-yard option-pitch pass from running back Zach Launius to wide receiver Jacob Ferguson at the 7:05 mark to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead.
The lead would change hands two more times in the quarter, the final time when Launius broke through on a 1-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds left in the half for a 14-10 lead. Moehring added his second field goal of the game, this one of the 31-yard variety, to trim the Cabot lead to 14-13 going into halftime.
Following a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run by Hekili Keliiliki on their opening drive of the half, Launius’ first fumble, on a failed exchange between he and quarterback Kason Kimbrell, allowed Bentonville to take control of the game early in the third quarter. Tyler Nichols recovered for the Tigers, leading to a 20-yard touchdown pass nine plays later, from Ford to Scroggins for a 26-14 Bentonville lead.
Cabot damaged their chances at a comeback with Launius’ second fumble of the game early in the fourth quarter on the Panthers’ next drive. Nichols recovered that ball as well, this time at the Bentonville 24, early in the fourth quarter. Bentonville capitalized, with quarterback Kasey Ford hitting Jimmie Jackson for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 8:43 left in the quarter to seal the victory, giving the Tigers a 32-14 lead.
Ford, who was named most valuable player of the game for Bentonville, finished the game 11-for-18 for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns. Launius led all players with 179 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 39 carries. Tommy Pledger was named MVP for Cabot.
Read more about this story in tomorrow’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.