Lack of intensity and execution led to the Thomson Bulldogs losing Friday night to the Clarke County Gladiators in Athens.
The Bulldogs pulled to within a touchdown of the Gladiators early in the third quarter, but Clarke County added two more scores to pull away and win their third game of the season 42-21.
“We weren’t intense or physical enough – especially later in the game,” said Thomson head coach Michael Youngblood.
“I told the team that we’ve got another team (Greater Atlanta Christian GAC) coming in that is going to be just as physical as the team we played last Friday night. If we don’t match the intensity and physicality, we will be in for another long Friday night.”
The Bulldogs were slowed early by injuries to key players.
Thomson evened the score at 7 early in the second quarter on an 18-yard pass from Damekus Taylor to Kenny Neloms.
Clarke scored two more touchdowns before THS’s Tavis Moss plowed over from the 3-yard line to bring the Bulldogs to within seven.
After a Gladiator score, Taylor scored on a keeper from 10 yards out for Thomson’s final score of the night, while the Gladiators added two more touchdowns.
Youngblood said the Bulldogs played well early in the game.
“I thought offensively, other than us shooting ourselves in the foot a couple times and not locking on, I thought we were on track to have a great night,” he said.
“I think we pressed a little bit in the second half as things got away from us. We took some chances downfield in an effort to make something happen.”
In hindsight, he felt that not taking a field goal on Thomson’s first possession might have swung the momentum early.
“We probably should have kicked the field goal early,” he said.
“We got down there on the 2-yard line and we should have gone ahead and took the points, so that’s on me as a head coach.”
Thomson rushed for 358 yards of offense, with Taylor passing for 215 yards, while completing 14-of-30 passes. Tyler Curry led rushers with 62 yards on 11 rushes. Kendarian Lane led receivers with two receptions for 57 yards.
Jawan Brinkley led the defense with nine total tackles (seven solo), while Jamon Fanning and Dylan Hobbs each had five tackles.
The Bulldogs come to The Brickyard Friday night for their first home game of the season, also Youngblood’s first at the stadium.
The coach said it will be a great night to celebrate the 1968 Thomson championship season.
“I want to fans to come out and support the players and history,” he said. “There are those Ghosts of The Brickyard and we hope to revive that with a better game.”
The coach added that he also cautioned that the schedule does not forgive and that the Dogs just have to go out there and play their best football.
Before both losing games last Friday night, the Class 3-A GAC Spartans were ranked 7th by the AJC and THS was ranked 8th by the AJC. The Spartans are 1-2 after Friday night’s loss to Prestonwood Christian in Plano, Texas.
Youngblood said GAC, being a private school has the opportunity to choose players to come to them.
“They mix the run and pass on offense and show the 3-4 defense with a tough secondary,” the coach said.
“They are big and physical up front and are going to push controlling the defensive and offensive lines of scrimmage.”
The Dogs will hold the Dog Walk at 5:30 p.m., with the 1968 Championship team leading the way. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
General admission tickets are available in the THS main office for $7. THS students may purchase one ticket in advance for $6. Reserved season tickets may also be purchased for $62.50 each. A season ticket is valid for all regular season home football games. Advance ticket sales end Friday at 3:30 p.m.