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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cats roll the bones, come up winners

Friday, October 7, 2011

MONEY!: Dylan Dennis reels in the game-winning 2-point conversion from quarterback Brandon Childers in Thayer's 22-21, double-overtime victory over the Mountain Grove Panthers Sept. 30. Photo/Looney
With rivalries that date back to their high school days at Thayer, coach Billy Webber and Mountain Grove coach Steve Ary have competed -- either as teammates -- or from the sidelines as opposing coaches for many years.

They always bring their best game to the field of play each week, but the latest installment of Webber vs. Ary, or Bobcats vs. Panthers, may very well be the most memorable in this South Central Association matchup.

At the very least, this one showed that Webber and the Cats will do whatever it takes to win.

Rolling the dice with a gutsy call for two points, Thayer slid past Mountain Grove 22-21 in dramatic fashion Sept. 30.

Down 21-14 in the second overtime, Thayer quarterback Brandon Childers completed a pass to Levi Hargrove at the 1-yard line.

With everyone bunched up at the goal line, the Bobcats sent everyone to the right side of the field, as Childers hid the ball on his hip and used his wheels to sprint to the end zone on a naked bootleg to the left and six points for Thayer.

The game came down to one play and the question that Webber was faced with was whether to kick the extra-point for the tie go for two points and the win.

Webber decided to roll the bones.

Childers rolled to his right behind the Bobcat front line and as Hargrove came open in the end zone, the QB spotted tight end Dylan Dennis just across the end stripe.

Quick as lightening, Childers zipped a strike between two Panther defenders and Dennis secured the ball as he was sliding down for the 2-point conversion and the 22-21 Bobcat victory.

The contest started out with the Bobcats taking the opening kick and use their running attack to effectively move the ball on their first two sets of downs.

But Mountain Grove's defense stiffened and forced the Bobcats to punt. Mountain Grove fumbled the ball and the Bobcats recovered. Thayer just could not penetrate the Panther defense and turned the ball over on downs.

In the field position battle, kicker Jeremy Cabrales booted a high kick that dropped dead near the Mountain Grove 5-yard line, forcing the Panthers to start deep in their side of the field.

This offense/defense/defense/offense battle finished out the first quarter with both the Bobcats and the Panthers at a stalemate, with the scoreboard showing zeros.

The young front line of the Bobcats battled hard in the trenches, allowing Cabrales to grind out tough yardage up the gut, with Connor Blair hitting holes to the outside to move the ball deep into Panther territory.

At the 10:59 mark of the second quarter, Connor Blair cut off of blocks by Austin Henry and Dennis, to push across the end line for a Bobcat touchdown. The PAT was not successful, but the Bobcats had the edge at 6-0.

Power football and field position moved the ball up and down, back and forth, in the middle of the field.

With 1:56 on the second quarter clock, a near rugby like scrum at the goal line allowed Mountain Grove to get a second effort push, which inched forward and across the end line for a Panther score. The PAT kick was good and put the Panthers in the lead 7-6.

Thayer's kick returner was stripped of the ball, which bounced into the waiting hands of a Panther defender.

With time counting down to the half, Hargrove intercepted a Mountain Grove pass attempt at the Bobcat 15, leaving the home team with a one-point lead at the break.

Cabrales pinned Mountain Grove deep in its end of the field with a good kick to start the third quarter.

Panther quarterback Shaun Anderson launched a pass on third down, which was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Hargrove picked off the pass and ran it back 15 yards, before being brought down at the Panther 1.

Following the front line push from Pittman, Campbell, Reed, Denbow, Henry and Dennis, Cabrales powered in for six Bobcat points and a 12-7 lead.

A 2-point conversion attempt got pushed back with a procedure flag. Childers completed the pass to Dennis, but Mountain Grove's defender pulled Dennis down just shy of the stripe.

The Panthers and the Bobcats battled at the line, ripped off some good yardage runs, intercepted passes and kept tangled through the end of the third quarter and deep into the final quarter. Hard slashing runs from Blair and bruising blasts from Cabrales, moved the Bobcats within striking range, before a Bobcat fumble was recovered by Mountain Grove.

Hunter Ary, Ricky Smith, Ridge Burke and Isaiah Martin jammed up the middle of the Mountain Grove running attack on first and second down.

On a pass attempt, the Panther's quarterback scrambled backward into the end zone, but could not elude the grasp of Cabrales and was tackled for a 2-point safety, to put the Bobcats on top 14-7 with 1:21 on the play clock.

After the safety, Mountain Grove got a good long kick.

Thayer's coaching staff and team used good clock management to run the ball and run time off the clock, before the Bobcats had to punt back to Mountain Grove.

With 53 seconds on the clock, Mountain Grove started its offensive series with a pass deep. Preston Ary, the Mountain Grove coach's son, managed to get a couple of steps on the Bobcat defender, caught the pass in stride and ran 62 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The point-after kick was good, to knot the score at 14-all, forcing overtime.

The Bobcats were unable to score on their first overtime possession, but Mountain Grove also failed to score. The Panthers field goal attempt went wide left, forcing a second overtime.

When Mountain Grove got the ball back, a huge second-effort push from its line inched the ball carrier across the end line for the Panther score. The extra-point kick was good to put the Panthers on top 21-14.

But Thayer was more than ready to answer, as Childers found the end zone for a Bobcat TD and then hit Dennis with a pass for the gritty 2-point conversion, giving the Cats a hard-fought 22-21 victory over Mountain Grove.

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