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On the road again: Thomson beats Washington County; set to travel to Albany for Dougherty

Everyone in Thomson knew Washington County would be the toughest team that the Bulldogs had faced all season. And did they ever live up to those expectations.

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Thomson High School's Defensive Coordinator John Barnett celebrates a defensive stop in the second half of Thomson's 28-21 win over Washington County.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
The Golden Hawks staged a late comeback that fell just short. After Thomson stormed out to a 21-0 lead in the first half, the Bulldogs gave up two fumbles and three touchdowns in the second half. But they somehow hung on for the 28-21 win.

"This feels excellent. It's been a long time waiting on this," said senior Thomson defensive linemen Kelcey Neal. "Ever since I was in the eighth grade, I hadn't ever beat Washington County. This was sweet revenge right here in the state playoffs, first round."

The Bulldogs (10-1) went for the jugular early. Thomson halfback Anthony "Pooh" Erwin took off for 53 yards to the Washington County 16-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. Erwin ended the game with 249 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Fullback LaBrandon Hudson pounded his way into the end zone from the 5-yard line two plays later after only 0:20 had elapsed off of the clock. From there, the first half belonged to Thomson.

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Anthony "Pooh" Erwin dives for a first down in the second half.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
"I thought the first half they did excellent, really," said Thomson Coach Luther Welsh. "They did what we worked on and what we tried to accomplish."

The Bulldog defense held the Golden Hawks (7-4) on their first drive. Thomson then drove 62 yards to make the score 14-0. Erwin found the end zone from 44 yards out with 6:03 remaining in the first quarter.

The two teams traded punts in the second quarter until McNair found an open Kyle Franklin down the left sideline. Thomson went up 21-0 after the 41-yard touchdown pass.

What turned out to be the winning score was a 70-yard run from Erwin with 5:49 left in the third quarter to put Thomson up 28-7. But the second half was almost all Washington County. Thomson's defense stayed on the field for long intervals after the offense either stalled or coughed up the ball.

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Thomson's Orlando Johnson dives at Washington County running back Rosco Walls.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
"Don't ask me," Coach Welsh said of the fumbles. "That's part of the game, but you hope it doesn't happen. If we hadn't fumbled the football, we'd have been in good shape the second half."

The Golden Hawks kept grinding away with runs from tailback Rosco Walls. He ended up with just over 100 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. Then in the fourth quarter, Washington County figured they had to pass the ball.

The Hawks passed on eight plays of a 14-play scoring drive. Quarterback Vantrosky Jordan hit Eulas Taylor in the end zone to get Washington County within a touchdown of Thomson with 3:49 left in the game.

Thomson ground out the remaining time to hold on for the win.

"It was a big test for us. We hadn't played a team this good," Thomson coach Luther Welsh said. "But our kids rose to the occasion and did a good job, and really I couldn't ask for more in the first half. But we've just got to put two halves together."

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Orlando Johnson cuts back against Washington County's Darius Lee.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
The Bulldogs will be looking to have one of those two-half games against their next opponent, Dougherty (10-1). Welsh coached the Trojans from 1968 to 1982, but he will be looking to beat his old team and move on to the third round of the playoffs tomorrow in Albany.

Dougherty has dominated opponents all season on its way to winning the Region 1-AAA championship. The Trojans defeated Troup (7-4) last week to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

Dougherty has beaten teams this year such as AAAA opponent Lee County (10-1), Cairo (7-4) and Thomson's playoff nemesis from last season, Westover (3-7).

"When you get in the playoffs you know you're going to play good football teams," Coach Welsh said. "You've got to be ready to play, and you're going to play tougher teams every week."

MIRROR REPLAY

Thomson 28, Washington Co 21

Star of the game: Halfback Anthony "Pooh" Erwin ran for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Play of the game: In the third quarter, right after Washington County scored its first touchdown, Thomson faced 3rd and 6 from its 30-yard line. Anthony "Pooh" Erwin took off for a 70-yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs up 28-7, and it turned out to be the winning score.

Up next: Thomson (10-1) travels to Albany to play Region 1-AAA #1 seed Dougherty (10-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.



Web posted on Thursday, November 10, 2005











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