By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Only one yard separated Kayden Myers from his beloved biscuits and gravy.
And in his own words, the 6’2”, 210-pound fullback doesn’t get stopped at the 1 yard-line.
Myers’ plunge from a yard out gave Ava a 12-6 overtime victory over Thayer on a frigid night on Silvey Field at C.E. Harlan Stadium.
The Bears (7-0 overall, 5-0 South Central Association) now have the inside track toward a third straight conference title with two SCA games remaining.
“It was a great win for us,” said Ava coach Dan Swofford. “We needed to seize the moment, and we did.”
In the short term, Myers and the Bears will get their reward Monday morning: a biscuits and gravy breakfast served up by Swofford.
“On Monday, Coach Swofford promised us if we won this game, we’d get biscuits and gravy,” Myers said. “So, I want some biscuits and gravy.”
Myers explained the tradition.
“Every once in a while, (Swofford) will do it. It’s kind of his special thing. He knows Thayer’s a real good football team and they’ll play us tough.
“I just want some gravy, man.”
Myers, a two-way fullback and linebacker, was a dominant presence on both sides of the ball. He had 29 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
At middle linebacker, he helped slow Thayer’s dynamic rushing attack. Outside of quarterback Jayce Haven (16 carries for 137 yards), the Bobcats found little room to run.
Thayer entered the night averaging 39.5 points per game.
“(Ava) pretty much stymied our run game, which had been good all year,” said Thayer coach Billy Webber. “Their defense with Myers in there at linebacker is awfully good.”
Ava’s defense stopped Thayer on downs on the first possession of overtime. The Bears did so despite Haven scrambling for a 20-yard gain on 4th and 14 from the 29 yard-line.
On Ava’s first play of its ensuing possession, Spencer Skyles got loose on the edge for a 17-yard run. From there, Myers carried three times for eight yards and the game-winning score.
“I don’t get stopped at the 1 yard-line,” Myers said. “That’s what was going through my head right there.”
Said Swofford: “I was proud of our linemen for stepping up and getting the job done. I had an old coach tell me, ‘Always trust those linemen.’ We trusted them and they got it done for us tonight.”
Thayer (6-1 overall, 4-1 SCA) hasn’t won a conference title since 1981.
“Our kids played tough. Ava just managed to have about one more good play than we did,” Webber said. “Both sides played great defense. That’s what I expected coming in.”
Dating back to 2016, Ava has now won 20 straight SCA regular season games. The Bears also won district titles in 2017 and 2018.
Thayer hosts Willow Springs (4-3 overall, 3-2 SCA) for senior night next Friday. Ava will have its senior night as well; the Bears face Cabool (4-3 overall, 2-3 SCA).
“Playing a quality team like Ava only makes us better,” Webber said.
Ava 12, Thayer 6 (OT)
Thayer 0 6 0 0 0 — 6
Ava 0 6 0 0 6 — 12
Thayer – Madden 20 catch from Haven (pass failed)
Ava – Myers 27 run (run failed)
Thayer – Myers 1 run
Unofficial stat leaders
Passing: Haven 3-for 13 for 69 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Haven 16 carries for 137 yards
Receiving: Madden 2 catches for 44 yards, 1 TD; Doss 1 catch for 25 yards
Passing: Swofford 1-for-1 for 13 yards
Rushing: Myers 29 carries for 111 yards, 2 TDs; Skyles 6 carries for 29 yards
Receiving: Myers 1 catch for 13 yards
Turnovers: Ava 1, Thayer 0