THAYER 74, MILLER 22
When it rains, it pours.
And it wasn't precipitation from the skies that washed down on Louis Bozman Stadium Nov. 4 as the Thayer Bobcats wrapped up the 2005 football campaign by playing host to the Miller Cardinals. Rather, it was as if the heavens opened up and rained down a river's worth of touchdowns to go along with several washtubs of good vibes, as the Cats recorded one of the most lop-sided victories in their school history by pounding the Cardinals 74-22.
This extra-special night was not simply confined to the 24 young men that make up the Bobcats' football team; it also extended into the home stands where one Thayer fan experienced a once-in-a-lifetime happening.
At halftime, Bobcat fan Jason Baker kicked a 40-yard field goal to win $20,000, sending a jolt of excitement through the stands and waking up a crowd that was sitting on its hands after witnessing the Cats (5-5, 1-2 District 5) blow the last district game wide open with a 66-14 lead at intermission.
The numbers the Bobcats rolled up against Miller were staggering; 11 touchdowns for the night, including seven in the first quarter alone. Over 475 yards of total offense, including 360 on the ground. Four running backs ran for over 40 yards apiece during the first half of play. Thayer led 46-0 after the first quarter, a school record for first quarter points, and upped its lead to 60-0 midway into the second before the Cardinals found the scoreboard for the first time on the evening.
It took less than two minutes inside the game's opening kick for the Bobcats to set the tone for the night.
On the Cats' first play from scrimmage, quarterback Brett Ward (123 yards passing) rolled out and hit Michael Lowther for a 21-yard TD pass that came at the 10:48 mark of the first. Lowther picked up 83 yards rushing for the game and found the end zone three times, two on offense, one on defense, for the game. Jason White booted the PAT, and Thayer led 7-0.
The Bobcats' special teams took center stage next.
After Miller's second three-and-out (the Cardinals would earn just two first downs during the first half of play) Jacob Simms took a Cardinal punt and ran it back 51 yards, weaving in and out of traffic, for a score at the 8:34 point of the first. White's PAT gave Thayer a 14-0 lead.
And the Cats' prolific evening had just begun.
Next up, Dustin Gaines (70 yards rushing) took a handoff from Ward and bashed his way 26 yards to paydirt to extend the Bobcats' margin to 20-0 after the missed PAT attempt.
Thayer took advantage of a lapse in judgment on the part of the winless Cardinals on the ensuing kickoff.
After an offsides penalty on Thayer moved the football five yards back, Miller let its guard down, and the Bobcats squibbed a kick that bounced off a Cardinal into Lowther's waiting hands at the Miller 49-yard line.
One play later, Lowther stood in the end zone after scampering 49 yards for his second TD of the game, this one with 5:28 left in the first. The PAT was blocked, but Thayer was in control 26-0.
Then it was John Tollenaar's turn.
The Bobcats' speedy All-State receiver caught a 63-yard touchdown pass from Ward and cashed it in for more points at the 3:50 mark, helping Thayer to move on top 33-0 after White's PAT. For the night, Tollenaar caught five balls for 108 yards.
With a shade under four minutes left in the first, Thayer found time for two more touchdowns.
Gaines dove into the end zone from a yard out on first-and-goal at the 2:29 mark, and then Tyler Bonds also landed in the end zone on a 20-yard TD run that came with 26 ticks left on the clock, wrapping up the Cats' seven-touchdown, 46-point outburst in the first quarter. Bonds paced Thayer in rushing on the night, racking up 108 yards on the ground.
Lowther started the scoring in the second for Thayer by picking off Miller quarterback Josh Harlow and running it back 42 yards for a touchdown at the 10:43 point of the second. White's extra-point pushed the Bobcats in front 53-0.
After his big punt return in the first, Simms (52 yards rushing) hit paydirt again, this time on a 40-yard TD carry at the 8:56 mark. White booted the PAT, and the deluge of points continued, with Thayer holding serve 60-0.
Miller did get on the board at the 8:39 mark on a 67-yard TD pass from Harlow to Jason Bragg, but the Cardinals were still in a 60-8 hole.
Thayer added to the Cardinal deficit when A.J. Garrison plunged into the end zone on second-and-goal from the 1 with 4:37 left until intermission. White's PAT was blocked, leaving Thayer with a 66-8 lead. For the first half of play, the Bobcats logged just five first downs, but rang up 10 touchdowns.
The Cardinals notched their second score of the game on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Harlow to Sean Erpelding at the 4:00 mark, but the odds were squarely against Miller, as the Bobcats led 66-14 at the half.
After such a total domination on Thayer's part during the first 24 minutes of play, the crowd's attention began to wander a bit at the half.
That is until Jason Baker strolled out onto the field at intermission.
Baker, of Thayer, drilled a kick from the 30-yard line that split the uprights and landed into the back of a new pickup truck backed up to the goal posts. That kick earned Baker $20,000 in a contest sponsored by Steed Brother's Trucking and River Country Chevrolet. Tickets were sold at the Cats' home games this season, with the proceeds going toward renovation of the sports complex at Thayer. After no one had been able to connect on a $2,000 kick prior to the Bobcats' last home game of the year, Baker came through in a big way to pocket twenty grand.
After the fireworks at intermission, the second half was somewhat anti-climactic, but each side did add one last touchdown to the season's output.
Erpelding ran for an 8-yard touchdown in the fourth, while Thayer's backup quarterback, Jacob Eckman, posted a 10-yard touchdown with 3:50 left in the game. Bonds ran the 2-point conversion in to wrap up Thayer's monstrous 74-22 rout of Miller.