Thomson High School’s Bulldogs dominated the Hardaway Golden Hawks 34-0 in a wet, blustery first-round playoff win Friday night at The Brickyard.
The Dogs now advance to round-two playoff action this Friday in Cartersville as they face the 11-0 Hurricanes.
But for now, the Dogs got off to a strong start in round one of the playoffs with the Hardaway shut out.
“We need to make sure we take care of things at home and we need to make life miserable for other people. I thought our defense went out and did a tremendous job with that,” said Thomson Head Coach Michael Youngblood. “We didn’t let anybody get behind us, we kept everything in front, and then we tackled well. The kids played probably their best game defensively and anytime you can get a shut out in the playoffs you know that’s huge.”
Thomson, now 6-5, set the pace for the game early by scoring 14 points in the first quarter and keeping the Hardaway offense in check the entire night. The Dogs defense held Hardaway to just 26 rushing yards and 16 passing yards the entire night.
“I think the coaches did a good job of drawing a bead on exactly what they wanted to do out of certain formations and different things of that nature from film studies,” said Youngblood. “We just basically told our guys we play pretty good at home.”
Thomson’s opening score came on a 3-yard run by senior Dylan Hobbs with 8:39 left in the first quarter. John Joiner supplied his first of four extra-point conversions for the night and the Dogs took a 7-0 lead.
Hobbs added another short-yardage touchdown run from the 4-yard line late in the first quarter, which ended with Thomson leading 14-0.
The Dogs continued to shut down the Hardaway offense and force punts. In one case, the Hardaway punter bobbled the snap then tried to flee from the Thomson pursuit only to be brought down deep in Hawks’ territory.
The defensive stop set up another Dogs’ scoring drive. This one was capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Hobbs. Although the kick was no good, Thomson still had established a sizeable 20-0 lead with 9:16 remaining in the second quarter.
But the Dogs were not done yet, and added yet another touchdown before halftime.
This time, Hobbs broke a 74-yard touchdown run late in the quarter. Joiner’s kick sailed true, and the Dogs carried a 27-0 advantage into halftime.
Thomson’s defense only allowed 52 yards in the first half. In the second half, Hardaway was negative 10 in offensive yardage.
The pace of the game slowed in the second half, as Thomson continued to shut down the Hardaway offense.
Thomson, on the other hand, did find the end zone one more time. Kay’Juan Cummings scored from 15 yards out and Joiner supplied the point-after kick.
Hobbs finished the night with 173 yards from 14 attempts, four touchdowns, and a long run of 74 yards.
“Dylan has been playing linebacker and we have known that he could play running back but we stopped trying to play kids both ways. We had some other linebackers to step up and start playing very well so we were able to put Dylan on the offensive side and we wanted to see what he could do being the featured back one game,” said Youngblood. “He came in and he ran the ball hard and the next thing you know he got hot.”
“He took care of the football, he made all of the correct cuts. He just had a great game,” Youngblood added.
This Friday the Dogs are on the road at Cartersville.
What will it take to beat Cartersville on their home field?
“I think the first thing you’ve got to do is you have to find a way offensively to sustain some drives. It’s going to be tough up there in their environment but you’ve got to find a way to move the football, to get you some drives going, and punch them in when you get the opportunity to punch them in,” said Youngblood.
The coach added that Thomson also needs to win the special teams game, limit turnovers, and take some turnovers away from Cartersville. The Hurricanes are known to be both solid running and passing, so the Dogs will need to shut one of those down.
“We’ve got to stop one and make them one dimensional. We’ve got to take something away from them and make them do something different than what they are used to doing,” Youngblood said.