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By GOOSE LINDSAY
The Oliver Springs Middle School Bobcats secured a TMSAA postseason playoff berth recently with a 22-8 victory over Wartburg.
Thursday’s game wasn’t necessarily a must-win game for the Bobcats, but they would have needed help to secure one of four spots in the upcoming Class AA playoffs. A loss to the Bulldogs would have left Oliver Springs needing a Bulldog victory over Rockwood Thursday to make the playoffs. Now, the Bulldogs and Tigers will battle it out for the fourth and final postseason berth.
Tuesday’s win was anything but easy as the Bobcats actually found themselves trailing 8-0 less than six minutes into the contest.
Wartburg took the opening kickoff and drove 59 yards in 11 plays with Brett Robinson scoring the touchdown on a one-yard keeper. Robinson then threw to Henry Taylor as the Bulldogs led 8-0 with 2:23 left to play in the opening quarter.
Oliver Springs, however, responded with an even longer drive as the Bobcats marched 73 yards in 15 plays with Lee Crass scoring from three yards out. QB Tyler Duggins fired a pass to Michael Nelson for the conversion that tied the score at 8-8 with 4:32 left in the half.
Seth Morgan proved to be the workhorse for Oliver Springs in the drive as he carried the ball 10 times for 57 yards.
Wartburg’s next drive didn’t go so well as a blocking-in-the-back penalty led to a three-and-out as Oliver Springs would take over in great field position after a short Bulldog punt.
Starting from the Wartburg 43, the Bobcats needed only three plays before Duggins hooked up with Nelson from 24 yards out to make the score 14-8 with 1:29 left in the first half.
Oliver Springs’ two-point try was no good.
Wartburg threatened on their final possession of the half as the Bulldogs advanced to the Bobcat 29, but the drive ended when Duggins intercepted a pass at the 21 with 30.3 seconds to play in the half.
Oliver Springs’ lead grew to 14 points on their first possession of the second half.
Starting from their own 45, the Bobcats needed nine plays before Nelson scored from 10 yards out. Nelson then caught Duggins’ two-point pass to make the score 22-8 with 2:32 left in the third period.
From that point on the Bobcat defense made the score stand.
Wartburg’s next possession ended on downs at the Bobcat 47. Then, after an interception and 28-yard return, the Bulldogs set up shop at the Oliver Springs 21, but they again came up empty as Crass recovered a fumble on fourth down.
Wartburg drove to the Bobcat 10 on their final possession of the night, but that drive ended with four straight incomplete passes.
Oliver Springs out gained Wartburg in total yardage on the night, 211-120.
The Bobcats picked up most of their yardage on the ground as they rushed the ball 29 times for 187 yards. Morgan did the most damage with 104 yards on 16 carries while Nelson added 49 yards and one TD on five carries.
Adam Susak led Wartburg with 43 yards on six carries while Robinson completed seven of 12 passes for 54 yards.