The Thomson Bulldogs were defeated by the Grovetown Warriors 18-12 in Grovetown Friday night.
Although THS led 12-10 at the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs were unable to finish strong,
“We have not scored a fourth quarter touchdown this season,” said THS head coach Michael Youngblood. “In every game, we have been ahead going into the fourth quarter. In that quarter, we have to learn to sustain drives and punch it in.”
Youngblood mentioned that the night was tough with the community and program dealing with a Thursday morning accident that claimed the life of three McDuffie County students.
The Class 6-A Warriors scored on the opening possession after driving to the THS 14, where Carter Daniels booted a 29-yard field goal
Thomson had the ball for a minute before a Tay Martin pass was intercepted at midfield by Kirk Smith and returned for a touchdown and Grovetown led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Thomson found the scoreboard with close to two minutes left in the first half on an 11-yard run by Martin. Conner Askew’s PAT hit the upright and fell away no good and the half ended with THS trailing 10-6.
In the second half, THS came out strong with a 13-play drive capped off by a 2-yard plunge by Dylan Hobbs. Ben Cushman’s extra point effort went wide left, and THS clung to a two-point lead.
The Bulldog defense forced a Warrior punt, but a series of miscues by the offense ended Thomson’s push and forced a punt.
Grovetown used five plays before Mekhi McNair ran 54 yards for the score. A pass play for the PAT failed and Grovetown led 18-12 with close to eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs had two chances to score, but there were more mistakes, including a personal foul that came with the ejection of Lil’Vasco Winfrey.
The Bulldogs moved the ball late to the Warrior 26 but turned the ball over on downs and the Warriors ran out the clock for the win.
Thomson ended with 286 yard of offense to 191 for Grovetown. Martin led Thomson with 125 yards on 18 carries. Snoop Williams was next with 62 yards on five carries.
Jamar Lattimore led the defense with seven tackles, six of those solo. Kay’Juan Cummings was next with six, four of those solo.
Next, the Bulldogs will see another Class 6-A team in the 4-1 Lee County Trojans which defeated Thomson 40-0 last year. The Trojans, defending state champions, are currently ranked No. 5 in the state.
Youngblood said the Dogs would need to work this week on fixing some things.
“We’ve been winning games, but have found a way to not finish three of the five ballgames,” he said. “We are going to lock in and focus in and find a way to finish. Defensively, we can’t bust and give long runs. On offense, we have to have control and good drives. If we don’t find a way to finish, we will be in trouble against Lee County.”
The game is a chance for the Bulldogs to get better, but Youngblood said the Trojans have a strong quarterback in Kyle Toole who runs the offense. Youngblood added that the Trojans’ Austin Beaver is an excellent place kicker.
The 3.5 hour trip to Lee County to match up to the Trojans will be quite a ride, but give the Bulldogs a chance to improve.
“When you have that opportunity (of playing a top program), we need to take our shot and do everything in our power to attack,” he said adding that coaches had to find a way to get the best out of the players. “We can’t wait on them; we have to take the game to them. We are going to have to throw a little bit more because they are going to blitz and bring the pressure. We will have to run at them, and put our skill kids in situations to make plays.”