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Cabot no match for best in West

by Mickey Doyle | November 10, 2007 at 4:43 a.m.

SPRINGDALE - Firsts keep piling up for Springdale Har-Ber.

The Wildcats, playing only their second year of varsity football, rolled to a 35-14 victory over Cabot for their first playoff victory Friday.

Har-Ber (9-2), which earned the 7A-West's No. 1 seed after tying Bentonville for the conference title, will host Russellville in the semifinals next Friday at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium. Cabot, which defeated Russellville 55-42 in its final regular-season game to qualify for the playoffs, finished 7-4.

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The Wildcats were efficient, scoring touchdowns on four of six possessions. The only times they didn't score were on their first possession of the second half when Oscar Escobar was wide left on a 32-yard field goal attempt and their final drive, which reached Cabot's 19 when the game ended.

Otherwise, Har-Ber was nearly perfect. Starting quarterback Patrick Calcagni passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third. His backup, Zach Faust, also passed for a touchdown. Calcagni and Faust combined for 10-of-16 passing for 256 yards.

But most damaging for the Panthers was a pair of secondhalf turnovers deep in Har-Ber territory.

Cabot took the second half kickoff and drove to the Har-Ber 8, before Michael James fumbled.

After Escobar's missed field goal, the Panthers drove inside the Wildcats' 20. But a motion penalty on fourth-and-1 forced Cabot to pass. Houston Pruitt intercepted Jeremy Wilson's attempt at the 10 and raced untouched down the Cabot sideline for a 90-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 10:37 left in the game.

"We moved it between the20s, but we'd get it down there and something would go wrong," Cabot Coach Mike Malham said. "In the second half, we came out and fumbled inside the 10, which has killed us all year.

"It was still 21-0, and that's a two-touchdown swing. Fourthand-1 and we jump offsides; now it's fourth-and-6. And instead of us getting it in, they get it in."

Cabot's ball-control Dead-T offense, which held the ball for 31:23 to Har-Ber's 16:37, limited Har-Ber's opportunities, but the Wildcats took advantage when they could.

Har-Ber scored touchdowns on each of its three first-half possessions for a 21-0 halftime lead.

Calcagni's 1-yard run capped a 60-yard, game-opening drive.

He directed a 95-yard drive on the Wildcats' next possession, passing 35 yards to Josh Fohner for the touchdown with 1:04 left in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.

Cabot put together a 15-play drive that took nearly eight minutes, but James, who finished with 164 yards on 37 carries, was stopped about a foot short of a first down on fourth-and-3.

Faust then guided the Wildcats on an 80-yard scoring drive. He passed 29 yards to Fohner on a second-and-24 play, then split two Cabot defenders on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Morris with 2:24 left in the half.

Wood isn't putting much credence in Har-Ber's lack of playoff history.

"Even though we're a secondyear program, they're Springdale kids," he said. "They know what championship football is. They've watched Jarrell Williams teams, Gus Malzahn teams step on this field and win a whole lot of ballgames.

"That's all they've ever wanted to do is grow up and be Springdale football players. And they're doing it at Har-Ber."

Sports, Pages 29 on 11/10/2007

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