Ava would set the tone early. Following a stalled open drive by Mountain Grove, Ava running back Kyle Clinkingbeard would take the ball 83 yards for the first score of the game. A low snap would cost Ava the extra point, and at least early on, looked like it would play a major role in the game. The Panthers would come right back and answer Ava‘s score.
Following big runs by Gavin Bolin, who finished the night with 84 yards rushing, Panthers quarterback Bobby Otwell scored from three yards out. After the extra point, Mountain Grove held a 7-6 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Clinkingbeard would again find the endzone, this time on a 2-yard run, to give the lead back to Ava. The 2-point conversion was no good, with the Bears holding a 12-7 lead. Once again Mountain Grove would answer as Otwell found Tyler Collins on a short pass in the flat. Collins would make the catch near the 20 yard line and carry the ball into the endzone. The Panthers would add a 2-point conversion run by Otwell to go in at the half leading 15-12.
The second half would belong mainly to the Mountain Grove defense. The Panthers would shut down the Ava ground game, holding Clinkingbeard to only nine yards on nine carries and Ava as a team to 31 yards rushing in the second half.
“We really didn’t make any adjustments at the half to our scheme. We made an adjustment to our attitude which really helped, especially on defense,“ said Panthers coach Rich Johnson.
Otwell would add touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards in the third quarter to give the Panthers a 29-12 lead heading into the fourth.
With the running game being held in check, Ava would go to the air on the strong arm of quarterback Ben Loge. But sloppy conditions, and the Panthers' blitz, would continually haunt the passing game for the Bears.
Mountain Grove, on the other hand, would make a few timely passes to pick up first downs and continue to drain the clock. Otwell would score the final touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a 36-12 victory.
On the night Otwell had four rushing touchdowns and was 5 of 9 passing for 89 yards.
“Otwell is one of the best option quarterbacks I have seen in a while and he does a really good job with that offense,“ said Ava coach Daniel Swofford after the game.
Tyler Collins, coming off a 184-yard effort against Hollister, finished the night with 118 yards rushing on 17 carries for the Panthers. Ava’s Kyle Clinkingbeard, after rushing for 108 yards in the first half, finished with 117 yards on 18 carries.
“I felt we played well at times, as far as executing and making plays,” said Swofford. “We are young in places and this was a good experience for us. We played a hard-hitting team that executes well and that was good for us. You always hate to lose but we lost to a good football team.”
Both coaches agreed after the game that the weather was not a major factor for either side during the game. “The wait that we had kind of hurt our attitude,” said Johnson. “We became a little less focused when it was time for us to play.”