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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Misery for Miller

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NOWHERE TO RUN: Christian Hunt sacks Miller quarterback Justin Jack for a big loss in Thayer's 43-7 district-opening win Oct. 17. Photos/Mullins
File this one in the "you had to see it with your own eyes to believe it" file.

It was supposed to be a clash of the titans between the state's third-ranked Class 1 team, Miller, and the state's fifth-ranked Class 1 team, Thayer.

A no-holds-barred, knockdown, dragout, last man standing wins, kind of showdown.

But instead of a showdown, what we got was a laugher.

And it wasn't Miller that was doing the laughing.

Taking advantage of four Cardinal turnovers while getting four rushing touchdowns from quarterback Jacob Eckman, the Bobcats (7-1) absolutely hammered Miller senseless Oct. 17, as Thayer romped to a 43-7 victory.

And the balance that Thayer showed in this game had to scare other Class 1 teams in the state senseless, too.

Lance Schneider ruled the defensive backfield for the Cats, and he picked off Miller (7-1) quarterback Justin Jack three times in the game, all near or in the Bobcats' end zone, to squash three Cardinal scoring opportunities. Matter of fact, Schneider's last pick of the game came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. He snagged a Jack offering at the Bobcat goal line and ran it back 98 yards the other way before being pushed out of bounds short of the Miller goal line with no time showing on the clock.

Garrett Brewer also recovered a fumble for the Bobcats, as Thayer's big defensive front kept the Cardinals from stringing together much offense in the game.

As for the Cats' offense, in addition to rushing for 91 yards on 20 carries and scoring four touchdowns in the contest, Eckman also was eight-of-12 passing for 129 yards on the night.

The only bad news for the Cats was when tailback Josh Huckabee (nine carries, 101 yards) was forced to leave the game late with a leg injury.

Thayer got on the board first with a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive to cap its first possession of the game.

Eckman hooked up with Schneider (two catches, 72 yards) with a nice 40-yard strike that pushed the ball to the Miller 6-yard line late in the series. One play later, Eckman crossed the goal line on a quarterback keeper with 8:06 left in the first. The PAT was no good, but Thayer led 6-0.

Most of the fight that Miller had in it was on display during the Cardinals' first series of the game.

Jack marched his squad down the field and capped a 10-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Hinshaw at the 4:18 mark. The extra-point gave the Cardinals a 7-6 lead after one.

And that would be about as much fight as the homestanding Cardinals could manage against Thayer, as the Bobcats floored Miller by scoring the next 37 points of the game.

Two plays into the second quarter, Eckman scampered in from two yards out for his second TD of the night. The 2-point try was stopped, leaving Thayer on top 12-7.

On Miller's next possession, the Cardinals coughed up the football and Brewer nabbed it for the Bobcats.

Thayer turned this miscue into points minutes later when Eckman knocked two Miller defenders flat on their backs on his way to a 3-yard touchdown on third-and-goal with 7:17 left until intermission. Eckman then hit Huckabee with the 2-point pass to push the Cats ahead 20-7.

It took some good old fashioned defense on Thayer's part to keep that 13-point lead at the half.

On Miller's last series of the first half, Miller tailback Darin Clark ripped off a huge 41-yard draw play that took the ball all the way to the Thayer 16 with less than a minute left on the clock.

But once again, it was Schneider that had his way. He picked off Jack in the end zone to nullify Miller's chances at a score right before the break.

This tone of excellent defense by Thayer was carried over into the second half, as well.

The Cardinals had opened the third quarter by forcing their way all the way to the Bobcat 4-yard line.

On third-and-3 from the 4, Tommy Martin broke through and threw Jack for a loss, all the way back to the 15-yard line. Then on fourth down, Schneider and Ryan Veatch combined to break up a Jack pass, giving the football to Thayer on downs in the shadow of its own end zone.

No problem.

The Bobcats just marched all the way to Miller's side of the field where Eckman scored his fourth TD of the game on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Eckman found Schneider for the 2-point conversion pass, giving Thayer a commanding 28-7 lead over an increasingly-sullen Miller Cardinal football team.

Thayer poured it on with a pair of scores in the fourth.

Eckman tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Schneider on fourth-and-8 with 8:19 left in the game to add to Miller's misery. Luke Martin (three catches, 35 yards) hauled in Eckman's 2-point conversion pass to give Thayer a 36-7 advantage.

Then after Schneider thwarted Jack with another goal line interception, the Cats put the icing on the cake.

Ethan Leisenring (six rushes, 118 yards) ripped off an amazing 96-yard run down the left sideline for the last points of the game with 3:35 left. He also kicked the extra-point to cap the Cats' 43-7 wipeout of one of the topped Class 1 teams in the state, the previously unbeaten Miller Cardinals.

Thayer continues District 3 play by welcoming its old friend the Marionville Comets to town Oct. 24.

Marionville opened District 3 play by edging Cabool 42-40 in overtime Oct. 17.

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