We’re 47 days from the 2017 Bearcat football season. A few days ago we started a 50-day countdown to that end by recapping the first of what a committee felt are the best 50 games — so far — to have been played in Bearcat Stadium, which, on Sept. 1, will open its gates for its 50th season.
Today we’re up to number 47, a 53-29 throbbing of Ozark on Oct. 27, 1995. Ozark makes its second appearance on the list, already. Expect more.
Why was this game chosen? The 1995 season was the first to feature four teams making the playoff from each district and both teams were in contention with Ozark’s situation being a little more dire. Tough. Jeremy Thomas went for six touchdowns, becoming the first Bearcat to do so and making this game a must for the list.
What do I remember? Okay, I’m not a fan of the team of north, so I loved it. Ozark fans were not amused at the 50+ on the scoreboard and a day or so after the game I asked Coach Ken Rippy why the Bearcats kept scoring. He said we stopped when they stopped.
What does Mark Smith remember? Plenty. Well that was a game I know Thomas was thankful for kickplates. Two of those TDs I hit him right square in the back at the goal line. One was more of a push but the second one I knocked the crap out of him. I was actually scared I had injured him on the second one. I remember laying on him in the end zone and him saying ‘that really hurt…..but thanks’. He had a 6 TD game in 6th grade too. My brother Paul was the coach of that team and he was a little embarrassed by the fact that Jeremey had five TDs so he wasn’t going to touch the ball again. We were running ISO and that’s it. Well we drive down to about the 2 and run ISO right. (Joe) O’Bar was the fullback believe it or not and Joe is barreling toward the goal-line and about 6 inches from crossing somebody came up and put a hat right on the ball and it flipped right into Jeremey’s hands better than any option pitch and he easily cruised in for his sixth TD. It’s funny because you hear of guys having monster games and think there’s no way they aren’t aware of what’s happening but you really don’t. I didn’t have any idea he had that many TDs. I really don’t think he did either. We were just playing football. I don’t think I even heard about it until we were back in the field house. And we stood around the whole fourth quarter talking while the second team finished up.
I’ve always said he was a lineman’s running back. I’ve told our backs before that I can block a guy’s body but I can’t always block his arms. You gotta run through those. And Thomas did. Linemen usually make backs look good but he was a rare back that made linemen look good. You always knew when one of his plays were called that you were gonna have a guy running behind you that is going to sacrifice anything he can for an extra yard. He’s not going to let an arm drag him down and he’s not going to run out of bounds. And never pointed fingers in the huddle. Young backs should pay attention. I’m not saying we intentionally block better for guys like that. But somehow it always seems like the holes develop better for those guys.
What happened? Thomas ran 21 times for 221 yards in the game. His touchdown runs were 29 to make it 6-0; 31 to end Ozark’s short-lived lead, 14-7; 45 to make it 20-7 and 4 to make it 28-7 before the defense allowed a late, long touchdown to end the half at 28-14.
Trent Goff went 2 for the next score to make it 34-14 and Thomas covered 25 to make it 40-14. After Ozark cut it to 40-21 there was another of three unsuccessful onside kicks and a 14 yard Thomas carry made it 47-21. After Ozark got within 47-29 Adam Rogers, who had 130 yards himself, scored the final touchdown.
Besides his rushing total Thomas had 24 yards receiving and 12 on a kickoff return for a total of 257 on the night.
Tomorrow it’s another record night at 46.