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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Changing of the guard

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ROOM TO RUN: Thayer running back Josh Huckabee takes advantage of a big hole opened by the Bobcat offensive line to run for a big gain against the Marionville Comets Oct. 24. Photos/Looney
Move over Marionville Comets, for you are no longer the class of District 3.

That title would now belong to the Thayer Bobcats.

And make no mistake about it, that title was not simply handed to the Cats. Rather, Thayer ripped it from the grasp of the Comets over the course of the past two seasons.

After blasting the Comets at Marionville in week two of district play a year ago, the Bobcats pulled the same trick in week two of district play this year, hammering the once-powerful Comets 46-8 Oct. 24 at Louis Bozman Stadium.

The win assures Thayer (7-1, 2-0 District 3) a return trip to the Class 1 state playoffs.

Last year it was the Bobcats that ended Marionville's (4-5) string of district titles, championships that led to three Show-Me Bowl appearances, by jumping on top of the Comets 28-0 in the first half of play.

This year's clash between the two schools followed largely the same blueprint, as Thayer sped in front 33-0 at the break and then hit cruise control.

Bobcat quarterback Jacob Eckman was masterful in the first half of play, connecting on all six of his pass attempts, two of which went for touchdowns. The Cats racked up 349 yards of offense in the first two quarters of play, and ended the night with almost 500 yards of total offense.

Thayer got things rolling by holding the Comets to a three-and-out on their first series from scrimmage. Marionville punted the football and Lance Schneider returned the punt 40 yards to set up the Cats' first strike.

Josh Huckabee (51 yards rushing), playing on a gimpy ankle, wrapped up a three-play scoring drive for Thayer (currently ranked fourth in Class 1) with a 5-yard TD blast on first-and-goal. Ethan Leisenring kicked the extra-point and with 8:45 left in the first, the Bobcats held a 7-0 lead.

On Thayer's next possession, Eckman (seven-of-seven, 189 yards passing) hit Luke Martin (three catches, 102 yards receiving) with a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play, 70-yard drive. The extra-point was wide of the mark, but with 5:02 left in the first, the Cats were in front 13-0.

And the Big Green Machine was just getting warmed up.

With a shade under two minutes left to play in the first quarter, Eckman struck again. He fired a 57-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to Leisenring that pushed Marionville further into a hole. Leisenring then kicked the point-after to boost Thayer's lead to 20-0.

But the Bobcat offense was not the only group having fun.

Thayer's defense so completely dominated Marionville that the Comets did not record a single first down until 12 seconds were left in the first quarter.

That defensive theme carried into the second quarter as Leisenring picked off Marionville quarterback Brandon Verfurth at the Bobcat 5-yard line.

Then, rewarded for this good defense, Leisenring (42 yards rushing) scored the Cats' next touchdown on a 35-yard scamper midway into the second quarter, pushing Thayer in front 26-0.

Cameron Carey (55 yards rushing) was the next to score a TD for Thayer, his coming on a 14-yard run with 4:25 left until intermission. Leisenring's PAT gave Thayer a huge 33-0 advantage.

And had the clock not ran out on the Cats just before the half, things could have been worse for Marionville.

Huckabee ripped off a nifty 28-yard gain on Thayer's last series of the first half, taking the ball to the Comet 6, giving Thayer first-and-goal.

Carey ran the ball to the 1, where he was pushed out of bounds as the clock ended the first half of play.

The Bobcats continued to pour it on the third quarter with two more scores.

Eckman hooked up with Martin on a 58-yard touchdown pass a couple of snaps into the third quarter, giving Thayer a 39-zip edge.

Then, after a 34-yard punt return from Schneider (32 yards rushing), Eckman (five carries, 77 yards) slashed through the Comet defense for a 20-yard gainer.

Two plays later, Huckabee racked up another touchdown on a 5-yard run on second-and-goal with 6:07 left in the third.

The Comets finally managed to get on the board with 1:15 left in the game on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Verfurth to Chris Banks Jr.

But that hardly mattered to Thayer, who knocked off Marionville by a big margin for the second year in a row.

Through the first two weeks of district action, Thayer has outscored Miller and Marionville by a combined score of 89-15.

Jared Foley added 47 yards rushing for the Bobcats.

Thayer wraps up District 3 play with a trip to The Pit, to take on the Cabool Bulldogs Oct. 30.

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