THAYER 44, CABOOL 12
With one week left until district play kicks off, the Thayer Bobcats were hoping to cross a few things off their to-do list to end the regular season in style.
Namely, the Cats wanted to:
A. Give a huge Homecoming 2005 crowd something to cheer about.
B. Put together the year's first two-game winning streak.
C. Improve their record to over .500 before district play.
D. Pay back the Cabool Bulldogs for the sound defeat they handed Thayer last year.
Check, check, check and check.
The Bobcats not only crossed those things off the list, they also crumpled up the paper and threw it in the thrash, as Thayer hammered Cabool 44-12 at Louis Bozman Stadium Oct. 14.
After spotting the Bulldogs a 6-0 first-quarter lead, Thayer (4-3) outscored Cabool 38-6 from that point on, including 30 unanswered points in the third quarter alone.
As was the case against Willow Springs a week earlier, a gritty defensive effort from the line, mixed with a healthy dose of running on offense, was key for the Bobcats against the Bulldogs.
Thayer posted 248 rushing yards for the game, with tailback Michael Lowther enjoying another big night by logging 118 yards on the ground, running for three TDs while catching a pass for another score. Equally deadly, fullback Dustin Gaines racked up 100 yards rushing, most coming straight up the gut of the Cabool defensive front.
Cabool's game plan was also no mystery. The Bulldogs have favored a power running game out of a Wing-T set the past several years and have had good success.
This time around, the Bobcat defense was up to the challenge, and while Cabool did move the ball at a brisk pace, Thayer managed to keep the Bulldogs from cracking things open with any big plays.
Bulldog quarterback Ryan Smith gave Cabool its only lead of the night with a 17-yard touchdown run that came at the 1:53 mark of the first quarter. The extra-point attempt was no good, leaving Cabool on top 6-0 after one.
Thayer struck back late in the second, as the Cats moved 64 yards to a score using a no-huddle offense to keep Cabool on its toes.
On second-and-8 from the Bulldog 20, Thayer quarterback Brett Ward hit Jacob Eckman with a TD pass with 1:02 left in the first half. Lowther dove across the end zone for the 2-point conversion and the Cats were in business, taking an 8-6 lead to intermission.
And then came the third quarter. A quarter in which an early turnover by Cabool turned into a massive avalanche that buried the Bulldogs.
On the third play of the third, a botched center/quarterback exchange on the Bulldogs' part was quickly scooped up by the Bobcats' O.J. Major, giving Thayer the football at its own 45.
Two plays later Thayer hit paydirt as Ward uncorked a 55-yard touchdown pass to Lowther at the 10:08 mark of the third. After a pair of dead-ball penalties on the Bobcats, they were forced to go for two points from the 13-yard line. No problem. Ward found John Tollenaar in the back of the end zone for the 2-point conversion, pushing the Bobcats on top 16-6.
Going for the throat, Thayer then squibbed an on-sides kick that Luke Martin fell on top of in Cabool territory.
Lowther then recorded his second TD of the frame as he scampered 18 yards for a score with 7:49 showing on the third-quarter clock. Ward ran in the 2-point conversion around the right side and the rout was on, with Thayer up 24-6.
Not done, Thayer scored three minutes later on a Ward bootleg keeper from nine yards out on first-and-goal to keep the momentum squarely on the Bobcats' side. Lowther toted the ball across for the 2-point try, and the Cats' domination grew to a 32-6 advantage.
Cabool's next possession ended with its second turnover of the third, as Tollenaar picked off a Smith pass, giving the Bobcats another shot at points.
Thayer made it four touchdowns on four possessions in the third as Lowther pierced the end zone yet one more time on a 25-yard score with just over a minute left in the third. The 2-point conversion was stopped, but when the smoke cleared, Thayer's third-quarter uprising left little doubt which side would be victorouis on this night, as the Cats held serve 38-6 after three.
Cabool did find the end zone once more on the night, as Nathan Loughridge posted a 9-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth.
Down 38-12, the Bulldogs got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff by booting a short one they recovered at midfield.
However, two plays later, the Bobcats got the ball back when Gaines stripped Bulldog running back Tim Smith, yanking the ball from his grasp for Cabool's third turnover of the second half.
Lowther put the exclamation point on Thayer's one-sided romp with a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:52 left in the game, wrapping up the Cats' 32-point win as they head into District 5 action next week at Ash Grove.