THAYER 40, HOUSTON 13
The Thayer Bobcat Boosters Club has done an outstanding job constructing a new press box/concession stand/restroom complex, working on a tight budget and limited time frame to complete the project at Louis Bozman Stadium in time for the Cats' home-opener Sept. 14 vs. the Malden Greenwave.
While the new three-level press box is a beautiful upgrade to the facilities at Thayer, here's hoping that the Bobcat Boosters didn't stop there.
Hopefully, while they were at it, they also double-checked the wiring to the scoreboard and changed the light bulbs in the unit from regular to extra-strength. Especially those on the home side of the scoreboard.
After all, if the Bobcats' first two games of 2007 are any indication, said scoreboard is in for a lot of work this season.
Thayer showed little mercy on the scoreboards at the two stadiums it visited to open the new season, racking up 94 points in two game's worth of action.
First, the Bobcats posted 54 points in game number one at Salem, Ark., then on Sept. 7, the result was much the same as Thayer hammered the homestanding Houston Tigers by a count of 40-13.
But its not just offense that has propelled Thayer to a 2-0 start this time around. The defense has been just as impressive in two weeks worth of work, giving up just four touchdowns, all late in the game after the outcome was well decided, and all with the Cats' starters resting on the sidelines.
On a wet, slick and muddy field at Tiger Stadium in Houston, the Big Red could just not solve Thayer's defense, and Houston did not score until there was less than a minute-and-a-half left in the game, when the Tigers scored two touchdowns, their first points of the season. Houston was man-handled in a 33-0 week one loss to Marionville Comets.
But taking to the home turf for the first time this year, Houston found things just as rough as it did a week ago at Marionville.
Especially after the Bobcats overcame a slow start to the contest.
Thayer had taken the opening kick and driven into Houston territory when a lost fumble on the sixth snap of the game gave the pigskin to the Tigers.
Houston's first series stalled and the Tigers punted to Thayer.
This time the Cats hung onto the football and scored the first points of the game.
Using a steady diet of Michael Lowther on the ground, Thayer moved from its own 21 to the Tiger 40.
Then the Bobcats turned to the air.
Quarterback Jacob Eckman hit tight end Luke Martin with a screen pass and Martin blasted 35 yards for a TD. Ethan Leisenring knocked down the point-after to give Thayer a 7-0 lead with 2:24 left to play in the first quarter.
Three plays into the second quarter, Thayer was at it again.
Sprung by a nice block from Martin, Lowther danced 24 yards down the field for the Bobcats' second TD of the evening. Leisenring hit the PAT and Thayer moved on top by two scores, 14-0.
Houston would see plenty of Lowther on the night, especially in the first half when the speedy back racked up 119 yards rushing. But the Tigers also saw just how deep Thayer is in the backfield, as Tyler Bonds, in his first action of 2007, had a nice night toting the ball, as did Josh Huckabee.
And to prove their offense is certainly not one-dimensional, the Bobcats also got good mileage in the game from the Eckman-to-Martin pass, catch combo, gaining 12 and 15 yards at a time through the air.
But the play of the night for Thayer came on the defensive side of the football.
Midway into the second quarter, Houston quarterback David Weybright uncorked a long pass intended for wideout Ty Sheets. Bobcat defensive back Lance Schneider got his hand on the ball and tipped it up into the air, where it fell into the waiting hands of Lowther at the Thayer 30-yard line. Lowther proceeded to weave his way through traffic, returning the pick an incredible 70 yards for a touchdown. As it turns out, while the interception stood, the TD return did not. The Bobcats were called for a block in the back deep in Houston territory, nullifying Lowther's electric return.
One snap from scrimmage later, Lowther ran for a 20-yard touchdown at the 5:20 point of the second. Leisenring's point-after kick stretched Thayer's shutout to 21-0 over Houston.
Thayer did turn the ball over twice in the second, but Houston just couldn't get its wheels rolling on the muddy turf, and the teams went to intermission with the Bobcats up by three touchdowns.
The halftime break did little to dry the field, or to slow down the White-and-Green Machine one bit.
On the Cats' first touch of the second half, Bonds racked up 14 yards on a a pair of carries, followed by a 21-yard burst from Lowther. Then Eckman hit Martin over the middle for 16 yards to move the ball to the Tiger 20.
Bonds got another tote that took the football to the 15-yard line and Lowther finished things from there, sprinting down the left boundary for his third TD of the game. The point-after was no good, but Thayer was in total control with a 27-0 advantage.
On the Tigers' very next snap from scrimmage, Thayer knocked the ball loose, recovering it at the Tiger 26.
Favored with excellent field position via the turnover, the Bobcats scored six plays later, thanks to a nifty quarterback keeper from Eckman from 11 yards out. The PAT was wide of the mark, but with 3:27 left in the third, Thayer extended its lead to 33-0.
Weybright managed to find a hot streak in the Tiger passing game, going on a nine-for-10 passing burst late in the third and early fourth that got Houston deeper into Thayer territory that it had been all night.
While Weybright was hot, so was the Thayer defense.
On fourth-and-8 from the Bobcat 19-yard line, Weybright rolled out to pass, but Bonds was there to pluck the ball out of the air to snuff out Houston's promising drive.
Then for good measure, Lowther struck once again, this time on a 74-yard run from scrimmage on third-and-short. Leisenring hit the point-after to round out Thayer's point total of 40, with 6:55 left in the game.
The Tigers did get a pair of touchdowns against the Bobcat junior varsity squad in the last 1:28 of play; the first on a 20-yard TD pass from Weybright to Brad Pounds; the last with 1:02 left as Weybright hit Ty Sheets on a 38-yard score.