THAYER 41, LIBERTY 18
A bit of bad news for the teams remaining on the Thayer Bobcats' schedule for 2007:
Don't look now, but the Cats can throw the pigskin around a bit.
After busting out to a fast 3-0 start on the young year, mostly behind the explosive skills of running back Michael Lowther, who ran for over 500 yards and 11 TDs on the ground during that stretch, Thayer took advantage of a home meeting with the Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty Eagles to show it can air the ball out, as well.
And air it out is exactly what Thayer did against Liberty.
Behind an outstanding game from junior quarterback Jacob Eckman, the Bobcats (4-0) routed the Eagles 41-18 Sept. 21 at Louis Bozman Stadium.
For the game, Eckman completed 15 of 20 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also scored another TD on the ground.
But don't fret Thayer opponents; you still have to worry about Michael Lowther.
Lowther was certainly not forgotten in Thayer's big 23-point win over Liberty (1-3). The senior running back racked up 139 yards on the ground; scoring twice himself.
It was also Lowther, behind an excellent seal block from Cody Ary, who got the Bobcats' offensive machine started late in the first quarter.
After both teams had a couple of fruitless possessions to start the contest, Lowther took a Liberty punt, and fed by Ary's crushing block on an unsuspecting Liberty gunner, carried it to the Eagle 34-yard line.
Tyler Bonds (31 yards rushing) did the rest, crashing in from two yards out on second-and-goal, for the first points of the game. Ethan Leisenring hit the PAT to give Thayer a 7-0 lead with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
Then the teams played see-saw score for awhile.
Early in the second, Liberty struck for its first score of the game to keep pace with the Bobcats.
Liberty quarterback Luke Yarber hit Ethan Taylor on a screen pass that turned into a 9-yard touchdown three snaps into the frame. The point-after was no good, leaving the Cats on top 7-6 with 10:46 to play.
Then it was Thayer's turn.
On Thayer's next series, Eckman found wideout Matt Kojdecki for an 18-yard touchdown strike for an answering score for the Bobcats. Leisenring hit the point-after to move Thayer on top 14-6 with 8:16 left to play.
Although Thayer would outgain Liberty 426 yards to 258 on the night, the Eagles would not go away easily during the first half of play, keeping things tight.
Yarber got Liberty rolling on its next series by hitting Paris Walkup with a 38-yard pass.
Then, a couple of snaps later, Lady Luck had a hand in the Eagles' fortunes.
On first-and-goal from the Thayer 5, Yarber reached the end zone on a QB keeper, but the ball flew out of his hands into the end zone. Adam Mattison fell on the ball for the Eagles in the end zone, turning a potential mistake into six points for Liberty. Ryan Veatch knocked down the 2-point pass attempt, to keep Thayer on top 14-12 with 5:30 left until the half.
Thayer was not satisfied with a 2-point lead and went to work to extend that margin.
And extend it the Cats did, getting two big touchdowns in the last three minutes of the first half to maintain control.
Eckman found Lowther for a 41-yard touchdown pass that came with just a shade under three minutes left until the half. The point-after was no good, but Thayer led 20-12 at that point.
The Bobcat defense, just like it had in the first three games of the year, then proved its mettle by holding Liberty to seven yards in three plays, forcing the Eagles to once again punt.
Taking the ball at its own 33, Thayer headed for Liberty's side of the field, riding Eckman's arm.
Eckman hit Bonds (nine yards), Lowther (10 and 17 yards) and Kodjecki (12 yards) to move the ball to the Eagle 3-yard line with 21 ticks left in the half.
Eckman then used his legs, scrambling across the goal line on a quarterback keeper to extend his squad's lead. The extra-point was no good, but the Bobcats enjoyed a 26-12 lead at intermission.
The third quarter was scoreless, although just barely so.
The Cats had used a big 43-yard strike from Eckman to Kojdecki to push the ball deep into Eagle territory.
On first-and-goal from the 7, Lowther busted through the goal line, but the ball slipped out of his hands, through the back of the end zone, for a touchback.
Lowther found the end zone at the 9:39 mark of the fourth to build on Thayer's advantage. Leisenring kicked the PAT and the Bobcats were holding a commanding 33-12 lead.
Not to be outdone, Thayer's junior varsity logged a score later in the frame, as Leisenring pitched the ball to Patrick Sims for a 4-yard TD. Cameron Carey toted the 2-point conversion across to make it Thayer 41, Liberty 12, with 4:27 left in the game.
The Eagles got their last score of the night on a 16-run from backup quarterback Travis Zitter at the 1:30 point of the fourth, rounding out Thayer's 41-18 victory.