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Cabot wide receiver comes up big

by ROBERT YATES SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | September 11, 2021 at 2:40 a.m.

CABOT – Braden Jay did a little bit of everything Friday night at Panther Stadium. He did everything well, too.

Jay, Cabot’s standout senior wide receiver, had 8 receptions for 226 yards and 4 touchdowns as the unbeaten Class 7A Panthers held off Class 6A El Dorado 41-35.

The game featured more than 1,000 yards of total offense, with Cabot senior tailback Mason Bell snapping a 35-35 tie on a 2-yard touchdown run 1:07 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jay, inserted at safety, then batted down a pass from senior quarterback Sharmon Rester at the Cabot 7 as time expired to preserve the victory. Jay also ran three times for 43 yards on speed sweeps. His scoring receptions were 63, 25, 33 and 46 yards. The 33-yarder, a spectacular diving one-handed grab in the end zone, gave the Panthers (3-0) a 28-27 lead with 9:21 remaining in the game. They led 14-6 at halftime on two touchdown receptions from Jay.

“He’s just a really good football player,” Cabot Coach Scott Reed said. “I don’t know how many touchdowns he’s got in three games or yards or whatever, but he makes plays all night.” Following Jay’s 33-yard touchdown reception, El Dorado took a 35-28 lead on a 16-yard fourth-and-goal touchdown pass from Rester to senior receiver Jackie Washington and Rester’s two-point run with 7:02 remaining.

Jay followed with a 46-yard touchdown reception, shedding a defender with a spin move at the El Dorado 20 and racing into the end zone with 5:35 remaining. The extra point made it 35-35.

The Wildcats (1-1) had a chance to regain the lead on their next possession, but a 39-yard touchdown pass from Rester to standout junior wide receiver DeAndra Burns at 4:19 was negated by an illegal blindside block. A fourth-down conversion – a 19-yard completion to the Cabot 21 – was nullified because of a holding penalty and led to a punt.

The Panthers then drove 48 yards in seven plays for the game-winning touchdown.

Cabot amassed 488 total yards. Senior quarterback Grant Freeman completed 13 of 26 passes for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Bell ran 18 times for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 65-yard scoring burst to make it 21-21 after three quarters.

Rester finished 23 of 43 passing for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 67 yards. Junior tailback Shadarious Plummer ran 14 times for 76 yards and 1 touchdown (11 yards). The Wildcats finished with 588 total yards.

“I was impressed with them,” said Reed, who led El Dorado to four state championships before being named Cabot’s coach in December 2018.

“Sharmon Rester played great at quarterback. They got after us. They were confident. But I’m proud for the win. We did some things right that you need to do to win a game when it didn’t look good, so I’m proud of that.”

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