The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats are practicing this week under very unusual circumstances — after a conference loss.
"I’m not going to talk about Friday night," North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding said, "other than the fact that we will not accept losing or poor play."
Touchdowns by K.J. Hill and Claton Smith weren’t enough as the Cabot Panthers ran through the Charging Wildcats 48-32 to give North Little Rock their first conference loss in the 7A/6A-East.
Cabot ended a four-game losing skid to the Charging Wildcats. Fullback Zach Lanius rushed for 221 yards on 38 carries. North Little Rock beat Cabot a year ago 33-14 in the regular season and trounced them 28-0 in the Charging Wildcats’ opening game of the playoffs. Cabot beat Bryant the week before to earn the right to advance against their conference foes.
North Little Rock had their chances.
The inability to put the ball in the end zone turned into their undoing.
Settling for field goals or being turned back after getting inside the five-yard line plagued North Little Rock more than once. Sandy Burkes kicked a pair of first half field goals to keep North Little Rock close in the first half.
It wasn’t until the second quarter got under eight minutes that North Little Rock finally found pay dirt thanks to a Heath Land TD pass to Tavarian Anderson to cut Cabot’s lead to one at 13-12.
From there the game stayed close. Both teams traded jabs until halftime where Cabot was up 21-18.
North Little Rock’s punch looked pretty lethal when Land connected with Hill on an 88-yard score. But Cabot answered.
Cabot scored 20 unanswered in the second half, and the Cats couldn’t recover.
A score by Devohn Lindsey and another by Hill couldn’t bring North Little Rock back.
Hill finished the night with eight receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Most of Hill’s yards came in the first half, however.
"It all boils down to execution," Bolding said. "We never know what play will make the difference in the game, so we have to execute on every play."
Next up for North Little Rock is one of the longest road trips of the season on Friday when they travel to take on West Memphis.
The Blue Devils were no match for North Little Rock last season, a 42-0 route by the Charging Wildcats. The game is a stretch that includes Jonesboro next week.