CABOT — Heading into their 7A-Central Conference opener, the Conway Wampus Cats knew the better the success in the passing game, the better the chances of winning.
Tyler Langley completed 18 of 27 passes for 316 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the Cats downed Cabot 37-7 Friday night at Panther Stadium.
"We knew if we gave Tyler some time and our receivers ran good routes, we could get things to click," said Conway coach Clint Ashcraft, whose Cats improved to 3-1 overall on the season and 1-0 in conference play. "I’ve said all along if Tyler has time to set his feet, he’ll get the job done.
"The thing I’m seeing now is he’s also making plays with his feet."
Langley rushed for 48 yards on just four carries, including runs of 9 and 15 yards after escaping Panther defenders and keeping drives alive.
Conway torched the Cabot defense all night. That’s nothing new to Panthers coach Mike Malham, whose seen his young secondary struggle so far this season.
"Everyone’s passed well on us," Malham said. "When the guy across from you is quicker than you and more athletic, it shows. That’s what happened tonight (Friday)."
Brandon Cox led the Cats in receiving with nine catches for 155 yards. Rashad Shepherd hauled in six passes for 103 yards.
Most of that damage was done in the first half, as Langley threw for 266 yards over the course of the first two quarters. That helped Conway take a 24-7 lead into intermission.
A 34-yard strike from Langley to Shepherd got the scoring started with 9:24 left in the first quarter. An interception by Kaylon Felder on the first drive for the Panthers (1-3, 0-1). Seven plays later, Cordarius Irby scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Cats a 14-7 lead.
However, Cabot manufactured a methodical drive that ended with a 26 yard run by Mason Haley at the 1:58 mark in the first to cut the score in half. But Conway scored 10 unanswered points ˜ including a 16-yard pass from Langley to Cox and a 27-yard field goal by Ivan Pelayo ˜ to take control.
From there, the Panthers were never able to recover.
The Cats’ defense had something to do with that as well. That group’s strong performance kept Cabot out of the end zone, even though the Panthers were able to get inside the 10 a few times.
"It seems like our defense did better the shorter the field got," Ashcraft said. "We were real physical up front, and that really helped us slow them down."
Colin Fluesmeier and Corven Alexander had touchdown runs of 3 and 9 yards, respectively, to complete the scoring. Alexander led Conway’s rushing attack with 17 carries for 75 yards.
Ian Thompson led the Panthers with 74 rushing yards.
The Cats continue conference play next week hosting North Little Rock. Ashcraft is hoping starting league play off on the right foot will translate into more success.
"It gives us some confidence we need," Ashcraft said. "We’ve seen improvement every week, and that’s what it takes."