PREP FOOTBALL: Tymeson’s last-second field goal allows Bentonville to advance to state championship game for first time since 2017

Bentonville Tigers Junior Karsten Pate (12) tries to get around Cabot Panthers Junior Logan Eason (33) during the Cabot at Bentonville Class 7A state semi-final playoff game, November 25, 2022, at Tiger Stadium, Bentonville, Arkansas (Special to NWA Democrat-Gazette/Brent Soule)

BENTONVILLE -- Logan Tymeson has kicked a number of field goals throughout his high school career, but none had as much on the line as his last attempt did Friday night.

Bentonville's left-footed senior split the uprights on a 33-yard attempt with eight seconds left, and the Tigers advanced to the Class 7A state championship game for the first time since 2017 with a 15-13 semifinal victory over Cabot at Tiger Stadium.

"I had a feeling since the beginning of the game that field goals would be a crucial part," Tymeson said. "Just going out there, I just had to mentally prepare myself and trust my guys, which I did pretty well.

"The hold was perfect, and the kick was good. To be honest, I watched it go off my foot and go right down the middle, then I just turned away because I knew it was going to be good. It's amazing. I'll remember this one for a very long time."

Tymeson's field goal -- his third of the game and 13th of the season -- was set up as Bentonville (11-1) drove from its 38 to the Cabot 16 in nine plays. The Tigers needed a critical 15-yard pass from Carter Nye to C.J. Brown on a third-and-6 play from their 42 to keep the drive alive, then they elected to play for the field goal.

It marked the third time this season Tymeson has hit at least three field goals in a game.

Tailback Josh Ficklin recorded runs of 9 and 10 yards to move the ball to the Cabot 20, then Bentonville used three short runs to set up Tymeson's heroics.

"I felt like if we could get it to the 27, Logan would have a chance," Tigers Coach Jody Grant said. "Once we got there, we felt confident. We talked about maybe taking a shot in the end zone, but I was worried about a sack or a fumble. I didn't want to risk that and get us out of field-goal range and lose that opportunity.

"And I have a lot of trust in Logan. He's a talented kid and very confident, and it showed. That's a big kick that not many people can have the confidence to do that, and he stepped up with no issues at all."

Bentonville's last-minute drive came after Cabot (9-3) bounced back from a 12-0 deficit to take a 13-12 lead on Abe Owen's 8-yard touchdown pass to Hayes Cox with 2:26 remaining. The Panthers' offense closed out the third quarter strong and started the fourth quarter with Evion Jimerson's 7-yard touchdown run to make it 12-7.

Cabot forced a quick three-and-out and took over on its 10 following a punt, then drove the distance in 18 plays and chewed 8 minutes off the clock. The Panthers were forced to lean heavily on Jimerson, who finished with 145 yards on 27 carries, when Owen suffered an ankle injury and was forced to sit out eight plays while his ankle was taped.

"We finally got a few things going offensively," Cabot Coach Scott Reed said. "In the first half, we kind of stopped ourselves some, but Bentonville played really well. I thought they had a great plan, and they executed well at the end. We got ahead of them with 2 minutes left, and they made the plays and were good with the ball.

"Our defense was outstanding all night and kept us in the game. I would have liked it to end a little differently, but I'm proud of our kids. We played hard. I can't fault our kids because the effort was tremendous. I thought the second half was more like our football until the last couple of minutes."

Bentonville broke a scoreless tie when Nye, who finished with 211 yards on 21-of-29 passing, hit Brown with a 33-yard touchdown pass as the junior receiver outleaped two Cabot defenders to make the catch. Tymeson, however, missed the extra point.

Tymeson drilled a 42-yard field goal with 10:28 left in the third quarter, then added a 36-yarder after Logan Roberson recovered a Owen fumble in Cabot territory.

"These kids deserve this opportunity," Grant said as Bentonville earned the opportunity to win its first state title since 2014. "They've done everything we've asked them to do, and they're playing really good football.

"I wanted them to get to experience this. I don't want us to be a team that plays for a state championship; I want us to win this thing. It won't be easy. We just have to get better and enjoy this week and go compete."

  photo  Bentonville’s CJ Brown catches a touchdown pass Friday over Cabot’s Andrew Rohauer (32) and Gunner Poe during the Tigers’ win over the Panthers in the Class 7A semifinals in Bentonville. (Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette/Brent Soule)

  photo  Members of the Bentonville band perform Friday during the Tigers’ victory in the Class 7A semifinals over the Cabot Panthers in Bentonville. (Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette/Brent Soule)

  photo  Bentonville’s Karsten Pate (12) tries to get around Cabot’s Logan Eason during a Class 7A state semifinal game Friday at Tiger Stadium in Bentonville. (Special to NWA Democrat-Gazette/Brent Soule)