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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bears main course on homecoming

Thursday, October 9, 2008

HEAD-ON: Thayer's Josh Huckabee heads to a collision with Willow Springs linebacker Bobby Thornton in the Bobcats' 52-20 homecoming win. Photo/Mullins
Another week, another game and another South Central Association team left broken into small pieces.

And all thanks to another fast start.

Just a week after Thayer smoked the Houston Tigers by jumping out of the gates to a quick, three-touchdown lead, the Cats were at it again Oct. 3.

Racing out to a 20-zip lead after the first quarter, Thayer (5-1) hammered the visiting Willow Springs Bears (0-6) 52-20 on homecoming night at Louis Bozman Stadium.

Thayer was more than efficient on both sides of the football against the Bears, as the offense rolled up over 400 yards, while the defense kept Willow Springs from getting much going.

Had it not been for a little third-quarter letdown by Thayer, Willow Springs might not have scored any points at all in the game.

The Bobcat juggernaut needed a little push to get going and a big play on defense did the trick early in the first quarter.

On third-and-9 with the ball in the Bears' possession, Jacob Eckman picked off a Justin Johnson pass attempt and wound his way 21 yards into the end zone for the first points of the night at the 10:54 mark of the first. Ethan Leisenring kicked the PAT to give Thayer a 7-0 lead, barely two minutes into the start of the game.

Then on Thayer's first series from scrimmage, Eckman (seven-of-10, 182 yards passing) hit tight end Luke Martin (four catches, 127 yards receiving) on a nice screen pass. Martin slid down the left sideline for a 53-yard TD. Leisenring's extra-point gave Thayer a 14-0 lead.

But the Cats weren't done with their big first quarter. Josh Huckabee (17 carries, 72 yards rushing) wrapped up an eight-play, 43-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run with 3:41 left in the first. The PAT missed its mark, but Thayer had jumped out to a 20-0 advantage after one quarter of play.

Johnson, the Bears' quarterback, accounted for most of Willow Springs' offense, as he carried the ball 23 times off tackle, right up the middle of the field. The Cats' defense managed to kick Johnson fairly well bottled up, holding him to under 70 yards rushing in the contest.

Thayer's next score came deep in the second quarter.

Martin reeled in his second TD pass from Eckman in the first half of play, this one going for 33 yards with 1:24 left until intermission. The 2-point try was stopped, but the Cats took a commanding 26-zip lead to the half.

But to the credit of Willow Springs' players, the Bears didn't hang their heads and give up at the break.

Instead, Willow Springs stitched together a productive third quarter.

But not before Thayer extended its lead.

Eckman ran in from a yard out on third-and-goal at the 7:01 mark of the third for Thayer's first points of the second half. Leisenring's PAT made the score 33-0, Thayer.

Then the Bears found a ray of sunshine.

Brandon Pitts ran the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards for a touchdown to jump-start the Bears. Johnson carried the 2-point conversion in to give Willow Springs eight points.

Then, the Bears executed a perfect onsides kick that was recovered by Garrett Sorrell at the Thayer 48-yard line.

Nine plays later, Johnson hit Clint Harper with a five yard TD pass on fourth-and-3 for the Bears' second touchdown in a four-minute span. The extra-point was no good, but Willow Springs had narrowed Thayer's lead to 33-14 with 2:52 left in the third.

The Bears tried another onsides kick, but Nick Allen fell on this one for the Bobcats.

However, one snap later, Thayer fumbled the football and Nick Tooley picked it up for Willow Springs.

But with turnabout being fair play, Eckman picked off Johnson for the second time of the evening two snaps into Willow Springs' next series, and he ran it back 30 yards to set up Thayer's next points.

Huckabee racked up his second rushing touchdown on a 7-yard blast on first-and-goal with under a minute left in the third. Leisenring booted the PAT to give the Cats a 40-14 advantage heading into the final quarter.

Thayer pushed this cushion to 46-14 on a 3-yard touchdown run from Eckman midway into the fourth quarter.

Willow Springs' last points of the game came on a pass from Johnson to Harper, on a ball that was tipped by a Thayer defender only to fall into the waiting hands of the Bears' wideout with 5:25 left to play. Harper's 62-yard TD reception made the score Thayer 46, Willow Springs 20.

But Eckman (12 rushes, 123 yards) had one last bit of bang in the Bobcats' cannon on this homecoming evening.

He broke off a 60-yard TD run, dragging a pair of Bear defenders the last 10 yards, to put an exclamation point on Thayer's 52-20 rout of Willow Springs.

Cameron Carey logged 26 yards rushing on five totes for Thayer, while Ryan Veatch hauled in two passes for 45 yards for the Cats.

After a bye week Oct. 10, Thayer hits the long road to Miller to begin District 3 play on Oct. 17.

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