WASHINGTON, Ga. - By halftime, the Thomson faithful had their doubts that they would be on hand to see Luther Welsh's 300th win Friday night. Washington-Wilkes had a 10-0 lead heading to the locker room, the same score by which the Tigers had beat Thomson last season.
Second half Tiger fumbles and a tough Thomson defense led to 33 straight unanswered points from the Bulldogs on their way to a 40-16 win. Coach Welsh gave credit for the milestone victory to the players.
"The kids did it," he said. "What they do is how well the coaches do. They're the ones doing all the playing. We kind of guide them a little bit, but they're the ones that earn it, and we just go along with them."
The Thomson offense only mustered 35 total yards of offense and a single first down in the first half. The Tigers scored on a 36-yard field goal with 7:49 remaining in the first quarter after a flubbed Bulldog punt gave them the ball on Thomson's 36.
Then Tiger running back Kelmetrus Wylie split the Bulldog defense for a touchdown with 0:38 remaining. The 10-0 lead for Washington-Wilkes at halftime proved inspirational for the Bulldogs.
Washington-Wilkes fumbled the ball five times in the second half, and the Bulldog offense capitalized on them scoring 33 unanswered points through the third and into the fourth quarter.
"I couldn't be more pleased right now with the way they came back," said Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett. "I'm real proud of them because I gave them a hard time at halftime...We really came back with a lot of fire, guts and determination. I'm just tickled to death."
Touchdown runs for Thomson came from Nathaniel Jones, LaBrandon Hudson and D.T. Brown in the third quarter and Anthony "Pooh" Erwin and Jones again in the fourth quarter.
"Both sides of the football played well. Gosh, we got fumbles, and we picked them up and scored. Our defense played outstanding football, really," Coach Welsh said.
After a scrimmage and two straight away games, Thomson finally makes its home debut at The Brickyard tomorrow. The Bulldogs face a tough Jefferson County team that posted a 10-1 record last season.
The Warriors' only loss last season was to Mary Persons in the first round of the state playoffs. So far they are 1-1 this season, beating Burke County in the opener 20-10 and falling to a strong AAAA Baldwin 28-7.
Thomson 40, Washington-Wilkes 16
Play of the game: Thomson's Justin Samuels recovered a Washington-Wilkes fumble at the Tigers' 8-yard line which led to Thomson taking the lead for the first time, a lead they built on the rest of the game.
Star of the game: Thomson Coach Luther Welsh came away with his 300th career victory.
Up next: Thomson faces Jefferson County in the Bickyard tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.