West Laurens is now on the minds of the Thomson High Bulldogs.
The Dublin team is the next opponents on the gridiron this Friday night.
It marks another big Region 3-AAA match-up - one that both teams regard as "must wins."
Thomson, (4-3 overall) is coming off a 29-0 loss at the hands of the visiting Wolves of Buford (7-0 overall) that spoiled homecoming festivities in The Brickyard a week ago. Despite the loss, Thomson's defensive unit played the Wolves one of their closest games in two years. At the half, the highly-talented nationally ranked Class AA football team clung only to a six-point lead - the team managing to get into the end zone shortly before halftime.
The Bulldogs suffered a pair of crucial turnovers during the second half that spelled their demise.
The loss was Thomson's second shutout in two weeks - the first time that's happened in a number of years. The week before, the undefeated Washington County Golden Hawks defeated the Bulldogs 20-0. This past weekend, meanwhile, the Golden Hawks didn't let a road game stand in their way to another impressive victory - that one coming over West Laurens (4-4) in a 51-0 rout.
Kickoff against West Laurens on Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m. The game is a crucial one in terms of the region standings for both teams.
As for the Buford game, Thomson Head Coach Luther Welsh obviously was disappointed in the play of his offense.
"I was pleased with the way our defense played Buford in the first half," said Coach Welsh. "But as far our offense goes, it was the same old story. We just aren't getting the job done, offensively."
He lamented that his team can't win ball games without the offensive unit doing their job.
"All we can do as coaches is to continue to work with them," said Coach Welsh. "That's all I know that we can do. Maybe they'll come around soon. And maybe they won't. Right now, I just don't know."
The head mentor noted that he wished his team had not committed the turnovers and a blocked punt, because the game might have ended much closer than it did.
"We had a couple of chances to do something with the football, but we made mistakes," said Coach Welsh. "They were able to capitalize on our mistakes."
In the first half of the game against the Buford Wolves, nationally ranked by USA Today, the Bulldogs seemingly gave their visitors everything they could handle on a rainy night for prep football in East Central Georgia. At times, the rain was heavy. Despite weather conditions, Thomson's defensive unit remained stubborn and determined to keep the high-scoring Wolves out of the end zone.
And they did for as long as they could.
A Buford player managed to block a punt by Thomson's Phillip Anderson late in the first quarter at the Bulldogs' 15, which eventually led to a touchdown by the victors on the first play of the second quarter. Buford's Cody Getz dove in for pay dirt from two-yards out. The extra point failed.
At halftime, the Wolves held a slim 6-0 lead.
"It was anybody's ball game at that time," said Coach Welsh. "I was really pleased with our overall play at that time. The only thing that bothered me in the second half is that we didn't play like we should have played."
In the first half, the Bulldogs held the Wolves to just 76 yards on the ground and 29 through the air. Thomson, meanwhile, was limited to just 61 yards total offense in the game - 58 yards on 33 carries, while mustering only three yards in the passing department. They were held to just four first downs. Buford, meanwhile, who was led in rushing by Jessel Curry with 101 yards on seven carries, garnered 211 yards on the ground and 56 yards in the air.
Thomson senior quarterback Brandon Turman led his team with 42 yards on 11 carries. He was followed by Jeremy McGahee, 6-17; James Bonner, 9-16, Darius Eubanks, 1-(-5); Dontavis Brown, 4-(-6); and Brandon Huff, 2-(-6).
Buford's Curry displayed his best 18-wheeler impression as he ran over Thomson defensive back Tresvatis Chambliss near the line of scrimmage and rolled into the end zone from 48 yards out with 7:47 remaining in third quarter action. Daniel Villafuerte later booted a 30-yard field goal with 3:36 left in that same quarter to boost the Wolves' lead to 15-0.
In the fourth quarter, Buford put up 14 more points to remain unbeaten in Class AA football. The first score came on a fumble that Michael May fell on in the Thomson end zone. Storm Johnson later scored on a four-yard run.