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Bears Beat Buffalo 38-0 To Advance In District Football; Hosting Springfield Catholic Wednesday In Round 2

Kane Thompson ran for three touchdowns and caught a pass for another as the Ava  Bears sloshed their way to a 38-0 win over Buffalo here last Thursday night. The win earned the Bears the right to play Springfield Catholic here on Wednesday night in Round 2 of the Class 3, District 3 football playoffs.
Almost 2.5 inches of rain had fallen here until just before the game began and field conditions only worsened as the game progressed, although no rain fell during the game. By the second half, players were recognized more by position and physical characteristics than uniform numbers.
Thompson’s first score came on a 60-yard run on the second play from scrimmage. Brett Vinson booted the extra point, and with less than a minute off the game clock the Bears were up 7-0.
The remainder of the first quarter was scoreless, but the Bears were driving, and at 11:18 in the second quarter Thompson scored again on a 19-yard run. Vinson’s kick was blocked.
The Bears would score twice more in the second quarter on a 24-yard pass play from quarterback Cody Huff to Thompson midway through the period, then with 3:18 left Thompson broke free for yet another long touchdown sprint covering 38 yards.
Running attempts for two-point conversions failed following each of those scores but the Bears had a 25-0 halftime lead.
Sophomore Morgan Smith intercepted a Buffalo pass to set up another Ava touchdown that would come at 7:46 in the third quarter. That score came when quarterback Huff kept the ball on the option, then outran the defense for a 47-yard touchdown run to put the  Bears on top 31-0. Huff carried 10 times for 176 yards from the quarterback position.
The final score of the game was added by Smith on a 10-yard run with 4:10 left in the third quarter. Vinson kicked the extra point to extend Ava’s lead to 38-0.
Smith tallied 129 yards on eight carries in the game.
Thompson, who carried six times for 185 yards on the night, broke another long run in the fourth quarter, going 66 yards to give the Bears a first-and-goal at the Buffalo 9-yard line. When the chains were set, the Bears’ JV offense took the field.
A face mask penalty on Buffalo moved the ball inside the 5-yard line, but four consecutive attempts by Kelly McDonald failed to penetrate the goal line, and Buffalo would take over at the Bison’s’ 4-yard line. Ava’s defense came very close to picking up a safety, but instead Buffalo would punt the ball away from their end zone to allow Ava another offensive series starting from the Buffalo 37-yard line.
After a five-yard gain to the 32, McDonald finally broke out of the pack for a 20-yard gain, but time would expire at the 12-yard line.
With Ava’s berth in the next round secured, the big question was who would Ava’s Wednesday night opponent be? Rogersville and Springfield Catholic were locked up in a 7-7 tie when Ava’s game ended, and it was not until the third overtime period that Catholic emerged the winner, 13-7.
The winner of Wednesday’s game here will play at either Eldon or Salem on Monday night, Nov. 11, to decide the district championship.
The Bears rushed for 589 yards Thursday night and had 24 yards through the air for 613 total yards of offense.
Defensively, Jesse Dean had a big night for the Bears with 14 tackles including one for loss yardage. Tristan Haltom had nine tackles and Nathan Bray had eight, and each had a tackle for loss yardage.  Morgan Smith’s third quarter interception that set up an Ava touchdown is also included in the defensive highlights.
Looking ahead to Springfield Catholic, Coach Dan Swofford described them as “a good solid football team.”
They have an outstanding receiver and a quarterback who is a solid playmaker, Swofford said.
Perhaps the biggest factor going into the game is that, so far as the Ava coaches know, the Irish don’t have anybody hurt. Ava, on the other hand, is suffering from the injury situation, with two more players sidelined Thursday night.
Senior runningback Chase Willis left the game early with an ankle injury and would not play Wednesday, and Paul Porter is out for the rest of the season after leaving the field on a stretcher Thursday night. Porter was taken from the field to the hospital by ambulance with a neck injury.
Those two join other starters Colton Akers who is out with a broken collarbone, Chance Boyd who was sidelined after sustaining a concussion earlier in the season, Clayton Clouse, out with a knee injury, and Austin Giorgianni, questionable Wednesday due to sickness that had him in the hospital over the weekend.
Time after time this year, Bears have risen to the occasion to fill the void when others went down. Brett Vinson, Nate Bray and Morgan Smith, to name three, have had valuable performances on both sides of the line to get the Bears to where they are this week.
In the past six games, the Ava defense has allowed only 21 points, and has shut out opponents in the last two consecutive contests, allowing a total of six points in the last four games.

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