Different coach, same result.
Senior quarterback Kareame Cotton accounted for 176 total yards and two touchdowns in North Little Rock's 34-7 Class 7A quarterfinal playoff victory over Little Rock Catholic on a foggy Friday night at Charging Wildcat Stadium in North Little Rock.
North Little Rock (10-1) will host 7A-Central rival Cabot in next week's semifinals. North Little Rock will be making its fifth consecutive semifinal appearance, but first under Coach J.R. Eldridge, who inherited one of the state's top programs last spring after Jamie Mitchell resigned to pursue out-of-state coaching opportunities. Mitchell guided North Little Rock to the Class 7A state championship game the last four seasons and a state title in 2017.
"I'm excited to be coaching these guys," said Eldridge, who led Arkadelphia to Class 4A state championships in 2017 and 2018. "I told them that I wanted to make a difference in their lives. I feel like covid has kind of limited that a little bit. It was hard for us because I didn't get to see them until June. Got the job in April. But I feel like we've really been able to come together and do some really good things, so I'm looking forward to another week with them."
Cotton, a three-year starter, completed 13 of 20 passes for 114 yards and 1 touchdown and rushed 8 times for 62 yards and another score.
The Charging Wildcats, who never trailed, led 14-7 at halftime and parlayed two second-half turnovers into 10 points and break open a rematch of an Oct. 16 conference game -- a 49-10 North Little Rock victory.
Catholic's biggest miscue occurred on its second play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Senior quarterback Will Bowman couldn't handle a high Shotgun formation snap from the Catholic 19, leading to a 1-yard fumble return for a touchdown by junior defensive lineman Luke Poole with 11:09 remaining in the third quarter.
"When something like that happens, it's really hard to get the kids back up," Catholic Coach John Fogleman said. "We really got down after some of those turnovers."
Leading 28-7, senior defensive back Zaylan Robinson returned an interception -- Catholic's fifth turnover of the game -- 9 yards to the Rockets' 27 with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Senior Liam Selhorst kicked a 39-yard field four plays later for a 31-7 lead with 11:07 remaining in the game. Selhorst added 26-yard field goal with 5:04 remaining to set the final.
Cotton had given North Little Rock a 28-7 lead on a 14-yard touchdown run with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter. Cotton also threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to senior H-back Vaughn Phillips for a 14-0 lead with 8:38 remaining in the first half. North Little Rock's other touchdown came on a 9-yard run by senior tailback Aaron Sims with 10:32 remaining in the first quarter.
Senior tailback Brandon Bisceglia scored Catholic's only touchdown on a 1-yard run with 45 seconds remaining in the first half. North Little Rock junior outside linebacker Tavion Akins had two first-half interceptions. Akins' first set up Cotton's touchdown pass and the second came at the North Little Rock 1 with 3:19 remaining in the first half.
North Little Rock finished with a 308-187 advantage in total yardage. Catholic (5-7) was bidding for its first semifinal playoff appearance since 2005.