Cabot Survives El Dorado At Home In Thrilling Finish

Our Week 2 Game of the Week took us to Panther Stadium as Cabot welcomed the El Dorado Wildcats. These two schools have played non-conference games since 2016 with the Wildcats leading the series 3-2, including current Panthers head coach Scott Reed owning a 1-1 record heading into Friday’s game: El Dorado took the 2019 game 35-13, Reed & Co returning the favor 41-23 last year.

Cabot got off to a great start at their own 46 and crossing into El Dorado territory, but after four plays a tipped pass landed right into Rakel Williams’ hands and he returned it to the Panther 33. Trying to push themselves into field goal position, the Wildcats ran into some trouble named Caden Mimms as he was able to bring down quarterback Sharmon Rester for a sack, a loss of 9 yards, forcing a 3rd and 21. El Dorado failed to convert on 4th down allowing Cabot to take over at its own 34.

After a stalled drive from both teams, Cabot drew first blood when star wide receiver and Harding commit Braden Jay caught a pass right from Grant Freeman and sprinted 63 yards down the El Dorado sideline for the score to put Cabot up 7-0 with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Cabot’s Matthew Oldham makes a leaping catch in the 1st quarter against El Dorado

El Dorado began the second quarter just inside Cabot territory and later in the drive on 4th & 8 Rester found Jackie Washington for a 38-yard score. The extra point was blocked by Harding commit Eric Masterson and Cabot still held a 7-6 lead with 9:57 remaining in the half.

It appeared Cabot would strike back quickly when Gavin Vest took the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but the officials spotted the ball at the Panther 26 where he stepped out. Cabot was able to move the ball, but the drive stalled just shy of the 50 where it was forced to punt.

El Dorado was threatening to take the lead on a promising drive, but the Panthers were able to force a fumble taking over at their 38. It looked to be a quick 3 & out when the Wildcats stopped them at the 46, but Cabot faked a punt and moved the ball to the Wildcat 42. Cabot got another break on the following play due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and it was in business with a fresh set of downs at the Wildcat 26. Cabot took full advantage of the Wildcats’ mistakes soon after when Freeman found Jay again from 25 yards with a defender on him for the score to add to the lead :25 before the half 14-6.

El Dorado got going fast after a kick out of bounds to begin the second half and began at its own 30 going for runs of 17 and 31 yards, respectively, quickly advancing to the Cabot 22. The Wildcats advanced a few more yards, but were forced into a 4th & 7 that was intercepted by Micah Morrison following a 71 yard-drive by El Dorado.

A long catch and run by Jay took the Panthers deep in Wildcat territory, but were forced to give the ball up after a failed 4th and 11 on the El Dorado 26.

El Dorado had a 35-yard run by Rester called back on a penalty, but RJ Thomas got most of those yards back on a long reception the following play and it only took one more play for Shadariuos Plummer to finish it off from eleven yards out. The two-point conversion from Rester to Jackie Washington tied it up at 14 with 5:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

After a failed 4th down attempt, Rester got the ‘Cats rolling again starting at their 36. With 2nd down at the Cabot 10, Justin Sobczak brought down Rester for a 6-yard sack, but it did not have much effect on the drive as Rester connected with Washington for six giving El Dorado it’s first lead of the game 21-14 right before the end of the third.

Cabot needed another score before the 4th quarter and that got it from Mason Bell taking it 65 yards with just :02 left before the final stanza. The track meet continued into the fourth quarter when Rester hit Cam Bibby who caught it at midfield and did the rest for a total of 76 yards. A penalty pushed them back and they missed the long extra point giving them a 27-21 lead.

Jay did some good things on the following drive, but none better than his jaw-dropping, one-handed catch to give him the hat trick for receiving touchdowns. Cabot regained the lead again 28-27 after the successful extra point with 9:21 remaining.

El Dorado pushed forward again just outside the redone when Jose Lopez was able to get Rester for a 6-yard sack moving the ‘Cats back to the Panther 27. After a 9-yard gain, Rester continued making plays connecting with Washington yet again from the Cabot 16 for the score. A successful 2-point conversion made it 35-28 El Dorado continuing the back-and-forth scoring.

Braden Jay scoring one of his 4 touchdowns on the night

It appeared we were going to continue to go in circles when Mason Bell crossed the 50 for a big gain to the El Dorado 36, but a holding call moved them back to the Wildcat 46. If you need a score, you dial up Jay in this situation and Cabot did. He answered earning his 4th score of the night to make it 35 all with 5:35 remaining.

“He’s incredible,” head coach Scott Reed said of Jay. “He’s special, he just finds a way to win.”

Jay broke the Cabot single-game receiving record with 229 yards on 8 catches. Despite what he has done individually, Jay credits his teammates for his success: “Our quarterback, Grant Freeman, he has been picking it up and our offensive line…I just have to give all credit to them,” Jay mentioned. “Also having Mason Bell in the backfield just opens up the pass game so much more. It’s awesome to have a guy like that.”

Two crucial penalties against El Dorado halted its chances of taking the lead and Cabot capitalized ending the drive on a batted pass by Micah Morrison on 3rd & 12. Jackie Washington caught the pass diving on 4th down to keep the drive alive, but another penalty forced El Dorado to punt from its 46 and it was shanked giving Cabot great field position at its own 48.

El dorado hurt itself again on a 3rd down holding call making Cabot’s yards to gain 7 yards instead of 17 which the Panthers were able to convert thanks to a clutch 14-yard reception from Chandler Carter.

Bell put the exclamation on the drive running in from 3 yards to make it 41-35 scoring the final points of the game with just 1:07 left.

With not much time left, El Dorado faced 4th & 4 then earned a new set of downs, but Rester threw up a prayer as the final buzzer sounded that was batted down to preserve the Cabot victory.

Cabot begins 3-0 for the second consecutive season and will get a bye next week before facing Catholic at Panther Stadium on September 24th. El Dorado falls to 1-1 and returns home to square off against Magnolia next Friday.

Article published by Kyle Sutherland, @k_sutherlandHTP on Twitter