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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Eagles upend Bobcats in OT

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Sports Editor

The streak is over.

After going winless for the season last year, logging just one victory the year before that and starting out 0-3 this year, the Mountain View Liberty Eagles ended a hefty stretch of frustration with a 19-12 win over the Thayer Bobcats in overtime Sept. 26.

With the game knotted at 12-all after regulation play finished, the Eagles won the toss to begin overtime and scored on their second play of the extra period on a 15-yard run from Wade Marriott to move ahead on the scoreboard. The PAT gave the Eagles a seven-point lead as Thayer took possession of the ball at the Liberty 25-yard line for their first series of the overtime frame.

After a Dustin Gaines carry for no gain, the Bobcats turned to the air.

Junior quarterback Andrew Eckman tossed a couple of incomplete passes, leaving the Bobcats faced with a fourth-and-10 and needing a score to extend the overtime period.

Eckman scrambled outside the pocket on fourth down and heaved the ball into the end zone in the direction of sophomore wideout Brett Ward, but an Eagle defender battled the ball harmlessly to the turf, leaving the Eagles with a major 19-12 upset over the homestanding Bobcats.

The Eagles offensive plan was clear from the outset: run the ball behind a bevy of big backs. This worked to the tune of 321 yards on the ground for Liberty, including 209 in the second half.

"We had 11 or 12 guys going on offense, defense and special teams. They played 17 guys, and those extra five kids gave them enough rest to make a difference," said Bobcat Head Coach Billy Webber. "That was a big key. We just kind of wore down."

The Eagles controlled the ball for all but three plays of a first period in which neither team scored.

The Bobcats got their hands on the ball for a lengthy drive early in the second quarter that turned into the first points of the night.

Running mostly out of a no-huddle scheme, Thayer started at their own 12-yard line and moved down the field.

Eckman busted through the goal line behind the beefy Bobcat offensive line at the 5:00 mark of the second to wrap up the 16-play, 88-yard drive to give Thayer the lead in a defense-dominated first half. Carl Hunter's extra point try was blocked, making the score 6-0, Bobcats.

This score held up until midway into the third quarter when the Eagles found the end zone for the first time on the night.

Starting at their own 30 after a 57-yard punt by Thayer's Brett Ward, the Eagles moved 10 yards in three plays before uncorking a big one.

On first-and-10 from their 41, John Garner broke a couple of Bobcat tackles and rumbled 59 yards down the middle of the field for a TD. Liberty's PAT was no good, making the game a 6-all tie.

The Eagles advanced the scoreboard again just inside the fourth quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run to take their first lead of the game. Dustin Gaines and Carl Hunter teamed up to thwart the two-point conversion, giving the Eagles a 12-6 lead.

Looking to grab the momentum back from Liberty, the Bobcats wasted little time locking the game up into another tie behind the receiving of Brett Ward.

Starting at their own 29, Eckman found Ward on a couple of short gainers before looking deep.

On first-and-10 from the Eagle 46, Eckman hit Ward in stride and Ward (six catches, 113 yards) did the rest, streaking 46 yards for the Bobcats' first score of the second half. Hunter's PAT was blocked, leaving the score at 12-all with 10:21 left in the game.

A big special teams play had the Eagles in position for a quick answer to the Bobcats' score just seconds after Ward's TD catch.

Garner took the ensuing kickoff from Thayer and raced down the right sideline, all the way to the Bobcat 28, setting the Eagles up with excellent field position.

The Thayer defense stiffened, moving the Eagles backward until, on fourth-and-17, Ward picked off Liberty quarterback Zach Gillingham, ending the Eagle threat.

The Bobcats didn't take advantage of this good fortune as Eckman was intercepted three plays later, giving the ball back to the Eagles in what shaped up to be a back-and-forth final quarter.

The Thayer defense came up big again as the Eagles tried to use a fake punt to turn a fourth-and-6 from the Thayer 46 into a first down with under three minutes to play in the game.

Bradley Harper sniffed the fake out and the Bobcats took over the ball once again, only to turn it right back over to the Eagles one play later as Eckman threw his second pick in as many series for the Bobcats.

Harper stepped up on defense one more time as he kept the Eagles from converting a third down as he sacked Liberty's Brandon Bray on third-and-8 from the Bobcat 48, forcing the Eagles to punt to Thayer with 53 ticks left on the clock.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they went three-and-out on their next series, leaving the game tied at 12-all, with the Eagles logging the only score of overtime for a 19-12 win over Thayer.

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