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Wildcats hit by Thunder storm
The Oak Harbor Wildcats dream season ended in a nightmarish way Saturday night as the Mountain View Thunder rained touchdowns down to the tune of 49 points on a defense that had surrendered just 100 points in their previous 10 games.
Mother Nature supplied the rain but Thunder quarterback Ben Huebschman brought the lightning as the talented senior picked apart the Cats for 366 yards, hitting on 23 of his 34 passing attempts and throwing three touchdown passes in the first half.
The Thunder got on the board on their first possession, going 66 yards in 10 plays with senior running back James Day bowling his way in from a yard out. It was the first touchdown the Wildcats had given up in the first quarter all season.
It appeared the Wildcats would respond quickly as junior running back Drew Jenkins returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to set the Cats up with a first down at the Mountain View 39 yard line. On first down senior Cody Parker busted through the line and rambled 18 yards to the Thunder 21 but as he went down the ball squirted lose with Mountain View recovering. It was the start of a night that saw the Wildcats have trouble holding onto the rain-slicked pigskin.
Later in the quarter it appeared the Wildcats had gotten a break that would turn the tide when senior Grant Bull picked off a Huebschman pass at the Oak Harbor 29 yard line. But a defensive holding penalty on the opposite side of the field returned the ball to the Thunder. The Cats held on defense but quickly turned the football back over to Mountain View when they regained possession late in the first quarter.
It was the start of a major Thunder storm. As the second quarter opened, Bull punted to midfield. Four plays later Mountain View saw their lead grow to 14-0 as Huebschman danced around in the pocket and threw late to Day in the back of the end zone from 13 yards out for the score.
Oak Harbor Coach Dave Ward was impressed with the talented Thunder signal-caller, calling Huebschman the best Ive seen at the high school level. He stayed very cool and nothing bothered him. He is hard to sack and when we did get close he had great presence and threw the ball away.
It was the first of three touchdowns the Thunder would score in a two-minute and two-second period as Day broke off an 18-yard run that ended a two-play, 76-yard drive following an Oak Harbor punt. The Cats quickly handed the ball back to Mountain View on yet another fumble at their own 28 yard line. Huebschman hooked up with Trent Overman on the first play following the fumble for a 28-0 advantage.
Weve done a great job all year of holding onto the football, Ward commented afterwards. This was the only game where we had problems.
Mountain View added two more scores in the final 1:25 of the half as Day took a screen 25 yards for a score. On the kickoff following that touchdown, a squib kick bounced off one of the Wildcats with the Thunder taking possession at the Oak Harbor 47. Huebschman hit Josh Baird on a 45 yard pass play to the Wildcat two-yard line where Day finished the drive off with his fifth touchdown of the half with just 15 ticks showing on the clock. It was apparent that the Wildcats had but 24 minutes of football remaining in their season.
Mountain View would add one more score in the second half to close it out. Ward spoke to the talent of the Thunder. They have a very good complement of athletes. Their line was quick and did a great job of pass protection. And their receivers were much better than they looked on film. They made circus catches, didnt drop any in the rain, dove to make catches and did a great job getting their feet down along the sidelines on those routes, Ward said. They were just very focused as a whole.
Ward also heaped praise on the fans who attended. It was great, our fans stayed until the end and kept cheering. They stayed after the game and gave the kids cheers as they left the field, Ward said, noting that one area reporter was so impressed that he spoke to Ward about the class and sportsmanship shown not only by his players, but by the fans as well.
Our seniors had a great year. Theyve been a great group of kids to work with and the community should be proud of the way they represented them. Our juniors are already talking about what they need to do in the off season to get ready for next year, Ward added.
And with a junior varsity that recorded an 8-0 record this year, the futures so bright Ward and his staff may need to buy shades.
First Downs 18 9
Rushing 5 9
Passing 13 0
Passing Yds 380 27
Total Net Yards 478 142
Average Gain Per Play
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 6/5