Talk about a turnaround.
With the early-evening sun still delivering unrelenting waves of heat, the Willow Spring Bears came into Louis Bozman Stadium at Thayer to face the Bobcats under the Friday night lights Sept. 10.
The Bears were stocked full of confidence after starting the season 2-0, while the Cats surely still had to be hurting after getting beaten by Liberty the previous week.
But in a complete flip-of-the-script from the two team's results from last week, Thayer bounced back big-time by pounding Willow Springs 47-12 in South Central Association play.
Thayer (2-1) took the opening kick and gave the Bears (2-1) a big dose of Cameron Carey following behind the offensive line.
The Bobcats marched the length of the field, picking up tough yards up the middle and winning the battle of "inches in the trenches."
After Thayer moved the ball up the field on the ground, Bobcat quarterback Lucas Risner found Dylan Dennis open for a short pass into the end zone to jump ahead. The PAT by Jeremy Cabrales went through the uprights and the Bobcats were quickly up 7-0 over the Bears.
The Bobcat defense played strong along the line and covered well in the secondary to shut down the Bears offense, ending the first quarter with the Cats still on top 7-zip.
With 10:48 on the second-quarter clock, the Bobcats were deep in Bear territory when the pigskin squirted out and the Willow Springs defense recovered it. But one play later, Dennis tipped and picked off a Bear pass, returning the interception back deep, all the way to the Willow Springs 30-yard line.
Behind the surge of the offensive line, along with bulldozer blocking from fullback Carbales and the running of tailback Carey, the Bobcats reached the end zone three more times in the second quarter, but did give up one Willow Springs score going to the half break, leaving the Bobcats on top of the Bears 26-6 at intermission.
With 6:54 showing on the third-period clock, Thayer QB Lucas Risner passed for a reception to Dennis. Wide receiver Derek Kreig leveled a Bear defender on the play, allowing Dennis to slip in for a Bobcat TD. The PAT was good by Cabrales, pushing the home team in front 33-6.
Willow Springs came storming back with a pass over the head of a Bobcat defender. The receiver sliped out of a Bobcat tackle attempt, cut across the field and dashed across the end stripe to tally six points for the Bears.
The humidity of the night began to take a toll on the players, as leg cramps became a factor.
But the Cats moved down deep into Bear territory once again.
With the play-action flowing left as the Bear defense played tight, Risner scrambled and found Kreig all alone at the 15 for a reception and Bobcat TD. The PAT was true and Thayer led 40-12.
After stopping the Bears on defense, the Bobcats were not done, as Risner tucked the ball and weaved his way to the left, then back to the right, and then another zig-zag.
With three Bear defenders close on his heels, Risner won the race for an 80-yard TD scamper. The PAT kick from Cabrales went straight down the middle for a 47-12 final score.
The Bobcats, now 2-1 in the SCA, go to Watermelon Country in Arkansas next week to take on the Cave City Cavemen.