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Madden '08 at Bozman Stadium

Thursday, November 13, 2008

GROUND CONTROL: Josh Huckabee rips up a big run against the McAuley Warriors. Photos/Mullins
It was sure a lot like watching a life-sized game of Madden '08 in the Regional round of the Class 1 state playoffs at Louis Bozman Stadium Nov. 4.

And had this one been a video game, by the end of the night, both the joysticks and the gamers controlling them would have been worn out, big-time.

Instead, it was the Thayer and Joplin McAuley Catholic football teams that were in need of a quick oxygen fix at the end of the Bobcats' 74-28 thrashing of the Warriors.

That's right -- 74-28.

Like a game of pinball on grass, the scoring started early and never let up in this one, with both teams spinning up and down the field.

The Warriors (4-7) did pass for 334 yards, 251 coming in the first half, but were also held to minus-16 yards rushing in the first half.

Thayer ran for an amazing 476 yards on the night, 394 coming in the first half. A first half that saw the Cats score eight touchdowns.

Josh Huckabee led the Thayer rushing attack with 174 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns. Ethan Leisenring was close behind, racking up two touchdowns while toting the ball seven times for 126 yards. Leisenring also kicked eight extra-points in the game. Quarterback Jacob Eckman rushed seven times for 71 yards, with Cameron Carey reaching the end zone four times while running eight times for 45 yards. Jeremy Cabrales finished the game with six carries for 41 yards.

Though they didn't rack up as many miles through the air, the Bobcats were still effective, with Eckman tossing TD passes to Ryan Veatch and Luke Martin in the game. Veatch also ran an interception back 79 yards for a touchdown.

The one negative in the game was seeing Lance Schneider, Thayer's dynamite defensive back and wide receiver, leaning on a pair of crutches in the second half after suffering a knee injury in the first half.

But save for Schneider's injury, all-in-all, it had to be a fun night to be a Bobcat, and that fun started right out of the gate.

Knowing they had their hands full with a dangerous Thayer squad, McAuley gambled and opened the game with an onsides kick try. Turns out that gamble backfired. Dylan Harralston recovered the kick at midfield and Thayer marched 49 yards in four plays for a quick touchdown, a 1-yard burst from Carey.

On Thayer's next series, Leisenring ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run to give Thayer a 13-0 lead with 7:10 left in the first quarter.

Eckman hit Veatch for a 17-yard touchdown pass later in the first, before Leisenring capped the scoring spree in the game's first 12 minutes with a 36-yard sprint to paydirt down the left sideline, giving the Cats a 26-0 lead.

Most of McAuley's damage to the scoreboard came in the second quarter.

The Warriors got a 5-yard touchdown pass from Austin Metts to Brant Russell at the 9:46 mark of the second for their first points of the game.

Thayer shot right back with a 5-yard touchdown run by Carey that pushed the Bobcats ahead 33-7.

Then the Warriors used one play for their next score. Metts hit Russell for a 65-yard touchdown strike with 6:40 left until the half.

McAuley then tried another onside kick, but Veatch picked the ball up and ran 38 yards to set up Thayer's next score. And it was from Carey, once again. He went in from two yards out to extend Thayer's lead to 40-14 with six minutes still left in a wild-and-wooly second quarter.

And the shootout didn't slow down any from there.

Metts hit Rocky Spry for a 59-yard touchdown a couple of plays later for McAuley's third TD of the second quarter.

The Warriors decided to kick the ball deep on the ensuing kickoff and Huckabee ran it back 80 yards, all the way to the McAuley 10-yard line.

One snap later, Huckabee was in the end zone for a 47-20 Thayer cushion.

The Cats got one final touchdown squeezed into the first half on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Eckman to Martin that came with 40 ticks on the clock. The Bobcats' eighth touchdown of the first half gave the home team an incredible 54-20 advantage at intermission.

And the fireworks didn't dampen at the break.

On McAuley's first snap of the second half, Veatch picked off Metts to give the football to the Bobcats.

A couple of plays later, Carey ran in from six yards out to extend Thayer's lead to 60-20.

On the Warriors' next series, it was Eckman who picked off Metts and ran the ball to the McAuley 8-yard line.

From there, Huckabee crossed the goal line at the 9:11 mark of the third to boost Thayer's lead to 67-20.

Then, as if things weren't already out of control for McAuley, the Warriors turned the ball over for the third straight time, with Veatch intercepting a Metts pass attempt. Veatch didn't stop running until he had scrambled 79 yards for a touchdown to make the score Thayer 74, McAuley 20.

The Warriors did find the end zone one last time on a 10-yard TD pass from Metts to Spry with just over two minutes left in the game, but that was far from enough as Thayer crushed their visitors from Joplin by 46 points in the regional round.

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