No. 300, fi­nally

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - ERICK TAY­LOR SPE­CIAL TO THE DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE

T.J. Rogers rushed for 168 yards and ac­counted for 4 touch­downs as Cabot de­feated Lit­tle Rock Cen­tral 41-21 to give Coach Mike Mal­ham his 300th ca­reer vic­tory.

CABOT 41, LIT­TLE ROCK CEN­TRAL 21

CABOT — Mike Mal­ham ad­mit­ted he tried his best to make sure this week was just like any other he’s had in the 38 sea­sons he’s been the head coach at Cabot.

But even the laid-back Mal­ham had a good rea­son to be in a jovial mood af­ter the Pan­thers held off Lit­tle Rock Cen­tral on Fri­day night.

Run­ning back T.J. Rogers car­ried 18 times for 168 yards and ac­counted for 4 touch­downs as Cabot took down Cen­tral 41-21 to give Mal­ham his 300th ca­reer vic­tory.

“Hon­estly, it re­ally feels like the first one be­cause it’s been so long since we got one,” said Mal­ham, who scored his 300th on the fifth try. “I wish it would’ve hap­pened a long time ago and maybe it’d be for­got­ten by now. But hon­estly, it’s a re­ally good feel­ing.

“I’ve had great as­sis­tant coaches, great play­ers, great sup­port from the ad­min­is­tra­tion … it’s not just a one-man deal. This is like a team ef­fort be­cause it takes ev­ery­body to have a good foot­ball pro­gram.”

Run­ning back Isa­iah Ogilvie and quar­ter­back Jessie Win­de­maker each had touch­downs for Cabot (3-4, 1-3 7A-Cen­tral), which hadn’t won a game since beat­ing El Do­rado 27-10 on Sept. 7 but needed to beat the Tigers to have any hopes of mak­ing a late-sea­son push to reach the post­sea­son for a sev­enth con­sec­u­tive sea­son.

On this night, Mal­ham was adamant the only thing that mat­tered was get­ting a vic­tory to snap his team’s four-game los­ing streak. By game’s end, the 65-year-old found him­self among a dis­tin­guished group.

He joined fel­low Ar­kan­sas Sports Hall of Famer and for­mer Bar­ton leg­end Frank McClel­lan as the only high school coaches to win at least 300 games in the state. McClel­lan re­tired in 2005 as the win­ningest prep foot­ball coach in state his­tory with 367.

Lit­tle Rock Cen­tral (1-5, 0-4), which lost its fourth game in a row, piled up 226 yards over the first two quar­ters and held a 15-6 ad­van­tage early in the sec­ond quar­ter. The Tigers couldn’t sus­tain that level of play in the sec­ond half while the Pan­thers stepped up.

Run­ning back Keylin Hol­loway ran 15 times for 119 yards and 1 touch­down for Cen­tral. Half­back Sa­muel Franklin chipped in with 102 yards on the ground on 9 car­ries and scored on a 78-yard run in the third quar­ter. Quar­ter­back Law­son Gunn was 11of-17 pass­ing for 105 yards.

Cen­tral took a 7-0 lead on a 55-yard touch­down run from Hol­loway with 10:05 to go in the first quar­ter, but Cabot coun­tered with a 9-play, 67yard that ended with 9-yard scor­ing run from Rogers. The ex­tra-point at­tempt was blocked, leav­ing the Pan­thers with a one-point deficit.

The teams traded touch­downs over the next two pos­ses­sions be­fore Ogilvie scored on a 64-yard fum­ble re­turn with 47.3 sec­onds left in the sec­ond quar­ter to give Cabot a lead it wouldn’t give up.

Rogers’ third touch­down, a 2-yard blast with 6:51 re­main­ing in the third quar­ter, capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive to push the Pan­thers’ ad­van­tage to 26-15, and his 67yard punt re­turn score blew the game open.

“I told the kids this week to just keep their minds on the game,” Mal­ham said. “It’s home­com­ing, too, and there can be a lot of dis­trac­tions that come with that, but they did a good job of fo­cus­ing on the task at hand.

“But like I said, it’s not just about me. It’s a to­tal team ef­fort. For me to be here 38 years, it has to be. I’m just so thank­ful for all the sup­port I’ve got­ten, but we’re not done yet. If we can get in the play­offs, ev­ery­body’s even again and any­thing can hap­pen.”

Mal­ham

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