It was all tricks and no treats for the Thayer Bobcats as they traveled to Marionville to take on the state's number three-ranked Comets in district play Halloween night.
Much as they were at Ash Grove a week earlier, the Bobcats came into the game banged up, fell behind early and never recovered as the Comets crushed Thayer 63-0.
The Bobcats never really got clicking on offense, due as much to Carl Hunter and Justin White's absence on that side of the ball as it was to the Marionville defensive front.
"I think that had a lot to do with our performance," said Bobcat Head Coach Billy Webber. "When we've got two or three kids not able to go, that affects about six postions for us. That's a lot when you face a team like Marionville."
Not wanting to fall behind by three touchdowns like they did against the Pirates in last week's opening game of District 5 play, the Bobcats gambled early.
An attempted onsides kick by Thayer to open the game was recovered by the Comets at the Thayer 44-yard line.
Marionville took the ball and never gave the Bobcats a chance to even catch their breath.
Less than one minute into the game, Marionville held a 7-0 lead thanks to a 29-yard TD run on their fourth play from scrimmage.
This was a sign of things to come for the Bobcats as Marionville's Nick Smart busted off a 57-yard touchdown run the next time the Comets touched the ball, staking Marionville to a 14-0 lead with 9:20 left in the first quarter.
Thayer's next series ended with a blocked punt, and one play later Ryan Wilson stood in the end zone after a 49-yard TD run, making it Marionville 21, Thayer 0, with 7:40 still to play in the first, as Marionville needed only six touches on offense to post this early lead."They've got good athletes on both sides of the ball, and when they get rolling, they're awful hard to stop," Webber said.
The Bobcats posted their first first down of the game on their next possession courtesy of a 36-yard strike from Andrew Eckman to John Tollenaar.
A couple of costly penalties kept the Bobcats from getting past the Comets' 46, and they were forced to give the ball back to the powerful Comets.
The Comets chugged right down the field and right into the end zone to grab a commanding 28-0 lead at the 2:57 mark of the first.
On Thayer's next series, Eckman was picked off, and the Comets took the football at midfield.
Up by three touchdowns to begin the second quarter, the Comets extended their margin with a 8-yard TD keeper from Smart at the 11:45 point of the second to put Marionville in front 35-0.
To make matters worse, the Comets intercepted Bobcat quarterback Brett Ward on Thayer's next series to set up yet another score.
Payton Grubbs took the Comets' next snap from center 32 yards to paydirt as Marionville built a 42-0 lead with 11:21 still remaining until the half.
After a 43-yard run by Ryan Wilson took the ball to the Bobcat 9-yard line midway into the second, the Comets added to the Bobcat misery with a 7-yard TD run by Josh Holder at the 7:58 mark as Marionville commanded the lead 49-0.
The Comets made it eight unanswered touchdowns in the first half at the 1:21 mark as Holder plowed in from 2 yards out on second-and-goal to extend Marionville's lead to 56-0 over a stunned Bobcat squad.
The Comets tacked on one final touchdown in the second half to end the contest with a 63-0 blanking of Thayer.
The Bobcats fall to 4-5 overall, 0-2 in Class 1 District 5 play, while Marionville stands at 9-0, 2-0 in district action, and looks to be a very tough out in the upcoming state playoffs.
"I expect that they'll go deep into the playoffs," Webber said. "They're good."
The Bobcats close out the season Nov. 7 as they host Pierce City.
"We've got to suck it up and play for pride next week," Webber said.