Through the course of the regular season, the Thayer Bobcats proved they could jump on an opponent quickly, run out to a big lead and then hit cruise control en route to victory.
In the regional round of the Class 1 playoffs, the Cats showed that they are also capable of slugging it out in a tight game, when necessary.
And against the Lockwood Tigers, that was just what the script called for.
The Tigers (6-5), runners-up from District 4, refused to go quietly, but Thayer (9-1) still imposed its will on Lockwood and advanced to the sectional round with a 36-21 victory Nov. 4 at Louis Bozman Stadium.
Although they won by two touchdowns, this one was anything but easy for the Bobcats.
However, it was in the critical fourth quarter when Thayer stood its tallest.
Down 22-15 entering the final period, the Tigers got a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Abbiatti to Isaac Lasater to pull within one point, 22-21, with 11:25 left in the game.
Thayer then went on a scoring drive that ate up 68 yards, and more importantly, seven minutes off the clock. Jared Foley came up huge on the drive, converting a fourth-and-6 from the Lockwood 11-yard line, keeping the chains moving for Thayer.
Josh Huckabee (105 yards rushing) crossed the goal line from three yards out and then Ethan Leisenring kicked the PAT to extend Thayer's lead to 29-21 with 4:19 left to play.
Then came the real back-breaker for Lockwood.
On the Tigers' next possession, Tommy Martin picked off an Abbiatti pass at the Lockwood 33, giving the football right back to Thayer.
And the Cats put the game away with a short seven-play drive that ended with Huckabee's second TD of the fourth, this one from two yards out, pushing Thayer in front 36-21 with 1:22 left on the clock.
Lockwood moved the ball onto the Bobcats' side of the field, but time ran out with the Bobcats clutching a 15-point win.
Lockwood's explosive, no-huddle air attack resulted in the game's first points midway into the first quarter.
After the Cats' first series ended when Dylan Urtado picked off Foley, the Tigers cashed in with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Abbiatti to Joseph Preston with 8:19 left in the first. The extra-point gave Lockwood a 7-0 advantage. That wouldn't be Abbiatti's only TD pass of the game, the strong-armed senior ended the night going 29-of-41 for 309 yards and three TDs.
And while the Tigers preferred to move the ball through the air, the Bobcats chose to ride their trusty ground game, pounding out yard after yard behind their mammoth offensive line.
And the star of this night was the hard-charging Cameron Carey. He racked up 241 yards and three touchdowns rushing the football against Lockwood. For the night, Thayer carved out 353 yards of offense on the ground.
Carey's first score, a 1-yard touchdown on second-and-goal, came with 3:12 remaining in the first. Leisenring's extra-point squared things at 7-all after one.
The Bobcats took the lead in the second, thanks to a big play on special teams.
With fourth-and-13 at their own 27, the Tigers were forced to punt. But Lucas Risner broke through the line and blocked the punt attempt, with Cody Gitzen falling on the football at the Lockwood 18-yard line.
Two plays later, Carey bowled his way across the goal line for a touchdown with 7:26 left in the first half. Leisenring's PAT edged Thayer on top 14-7 at intermission.
Thayer kept the pressure on Lockwood in the third, thanks a 74-yard TD run right up the middle of the field by Carey. Foley hit Derek Krieg with the 2-point conversion pass to push the home team to a 22-7 cushion.
But as the Tigers proved, they are capable of striking in a hurry and they did just that on their next series.
At the Bobcat 18-yard line, Abbiatti threw a strike into the end zone, but Leisenring was able to get his hands on the ball and tip the pass. But in the right spot at the right time, Urtado was underneath the batted ball and caught it for a touchdown. Preston caught the 2-point conversion pass and Lockwood was right back in the contest, trailing 22-15 after three.
But when things got tight in the fourth, the Bobcats got down to business and ended Lockwood's season by scoring two touchdowns in the final 12 minutes of play.