Thorsby’s first playoff appearance since 2010 a short one

Published 11:04 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

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Up for it: Thorsby’s Brad Stange (left) hauls in one of his two touchdown receptions during Friday’s loss to Leroy.

Up for it: Thorsby’s Brad Stange (left) hauls in one of his two touchdown receptions during Friday’s loss to Leroy.

Thorsby’s season came to an end with Friday’s 46-20 loss to Leroy in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs, but even after the final seconds ticked off the clock, there was more pride on the Rebels sideline that disappointment.

Minutes after the end of the game, coach Billy Jackson congratulated, hugged and took pictures with the team’s seniors, a group that posted a 7-4 record and earned Thorsby its first playoff berth since 2010.

The seven wins this season were more than in the three previous years combined (four).

Instead of a letdown, Friday’s game at Susan Bentley Field felt more like the laying of a foundation for more successful seasons.

Jackson smiled, and some of the players shed tears, as the coach told them he was proud of what they accomplished.

“We’ve come a long way,” Jackson said. “We’ve been through some tough times.”

The game couldn’t have started much better for THS.

Thorsby recovered its opening kickoff to take possession deep in Leroy territory, and Chris Brown ran the ball in from three yards out for a 6-0 lead.

The Rebels took possession three more times in Leroy territory in the first quarter but couldn’t add to their advantage, a fact that would prove costly.

After Thorsby’s defense stopped Leroy on its first four possessions of the first half, including a fumble recovered by Alex Robinson, the visiting Bears (6-5) scored three consecutive times to end the first half.

First, it was a 19-yard run by Denzel Woodard, then a 15-yard pass from Brandon Warren to Woodard and finally a 38-yard pass from Warren to Woodard, with the passes set up by several Leroy runs that gashed the Thorsby defense.

The Rebels trailed 20-6 at halftime, but came out swinging in the second half.

Thorsby recorded its first first down since the game’s opening possession on a pass interference call against Leroy on the first possession of the second half, and then another pass interference penalty was called, again on a throw to Thorsby’s Brad Stange.

When the defense finally played him honest, Stange leapt into the air to come down with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Conner McRae with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter.

Taking over near midfield, Warren eluded the Thorsby pass rush and then heaved a 45-yard pass to Marcus Anderson before Warren scored a touchdown on a keeper.

Thorsby drew back to within one score of the lead on a 10-yard halfback pass from Brown to Stange on fourth-and-eight.

Leroy effectively put the game away when Jamar Goodwin ran back the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and a 34-20 lead after Devin Washington’s point-after.

The visitors scored twice more, on an eight-yard run by Washington and on a 29-yard run by Goodwin.

Two lost fumbles and two interceptions didn’t help Thorsby’s cause.