THAYER 28, WILLOW SPRINGS 19
Having a short memory in football can be a very important quality.
After suffering back-to-back losses to Mountain View and Ava, the Thayer Bobcats forgot all about the shortcomings of the previous two weeks and traveled to Willow Springs Oct. 7 with one thing in mind, a win.
And a win was just what the Cats got, as they did all their damage in the first half and then held on in the second to best the Bears 28-19.
Before breaking their two-game skid against Willow Springs, Thayer's (3-3) youth had really been on display in weeks four and five.
A gritty effort that fell apart late against Mountain View gave way to a 40-14 loss to the Ava Bears the following week, a game in which the Bobcats were just never really in.
Against Willow Springs, Thayer set the tone from the opening kick, holding the ball for over six minutes of its opening drive, a march that started at the Bobcat 25-yard line.
After a good week of practice leading up to the clash with Willow Springs, Thayer's starting quarterback, Brett Ward, was back in action after sitting out last week's loss to Ava with a sprained MCL.
Ward made his presence known early as he hit wideout John Tollenaar with a 50-yard pass on the Cats' first possession of the night.
With the ball at the Bear 5-yard line, Ward then hit Tollenaar with a TD pass that was called back due to an illegal formation by the Bobcats. Undaunted, on the next play Ward tossed a TD pass to Dustin Gaines out of the Thayer backfield. However, this score too, was called back due to a block in the back.
So what started out as first-and-goal from the 5, ended up being second-and-goal from the 16. This time, the third time was the charm as Ward found Tollenaar near the goal line and hit him with a touchdown pass at the 6:35 point of the first quarter. The 2-point conversion was stopped, but the Bobcats led 6-0.
It was basically all the Bobcats in the first half of play, as they enjoyed a 28-0 lead at intermission.
Willow Springs made things interesting in the second half of play, mounting a comeback attempt before falling a bit short.
With the Bobcats holding a 28-7 edge late in the third, the Bears blocked a Bobcat punt, taking possession at the Thayer 35-yard line.
A couple of plays later, Willow Springs' David Doyle scored his second TD of the third on a 6-yard run to pull the Bears closer. Ethan Gaines got his hands on the PAT attempt, and Thayer remained in front 28-13 after three.
The Bears did tack on six more fourth-quarter points, but the Bobcats prevailed 28-19.