MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - The Baldwin Braves handed the Thomson High Bulldogs their fifth loss of the football season last Friday. The final score was 21-7 and thus gave the Braves their first undefeated season in the school's 23-year history.
Thomson went into the game with an upset-minded attitude. It paid off during the first half, as both teams went into their respective dressing rooms tied at 7-7 at halftime.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they committed a pair of mistakes in the second half that changed the outcome of the game.
Once again, their biggest problem was moving the football.
"We can't be inconsistent," said Thomson Head Coach Luther Welsh following the game. "At times, we do decent and then we just play awful. When you don't block, you don't move the football."
The problem against Baldwin was not a new one for the Bulldogs. They have had that problem all season.
"We allowed our defense to stay on the field too long," Coach Welsh said. "We've done that all season. It just wears our defense down when that happens."
Thomson's Offensive Coordinator Bobby Thomas said the team has to cut down on miscues.
"It's always some little something that we do wrong," Coach Thomas said. "We were capable of doing a lot better."
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs, 5-5 overall, will be competing in the first-round of the Class AAA state playoffs. They will travel to Butts County on Friday night to battle the undefeated Jackson High Red Devils, who are a perfect 10-0.
Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett said he thought the Bulldogs "played hard" against Baldwin "and that's all you can ask of them."
The Bulldogs played eight sophomores and a freshman in the game against Baldwin.
"I think our defense stepped it up a lot from the game against Burke County last week," Coach Barnett said. "I think we'll be ready for the playoff game on Friday. We just need to work out some special teams glitches."
In the game against Baldwin, the Braves garnered 292 yards of total offense against Thomson. The Bulldogs managed only 158 yards.
Baldwin senior running back Jerrico Ford set up the Braves' first touchdown of the game on a 35-yard run to the Thomson 1 with 51 seconds to play in the opening quarter. One play later, Ford was in the end zone for the game's first score. Steven Piro kicked the extra point that gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.
Thomson took advantage of a bad punt later off the foot of Piro that traveled only 18 yards.
Behind the senior quarterbacking of Brandon Turman, the Bulldogs moved the ball down field, eventually striking pay dirt. Senior running back James Bonner scored on a 4-yard run with 6:26 to play in first half action. Jay Bieltz knotted the game at 7-7 after successfully kicking the extra point.
The Braves threatened to score again before the second quarter ended. Josh Finney returned Phillip Anderson's fourth punt of the game all the way to the Thomson 12. But a penalty against Baldwin backed them up to the 22. Two pass plays with coverage by Thomson's Tresvatis Chambliss and Patrick Stewart failed. On a third down play, Chambliss intercepted Baldwin freshman quarterback Rashaun Miline to end the threat.
Other defensive players turning in a fine game for Thomson included Lonnie Harris, Rickae Cummings, Brontavious McNair, Denzell Burley, Abram Cartledge, Jacoby Crawford and Will Tankersley.
Baldwin went ahead 14-7 on a 26-yard touchdown run by Miline with 10:40 to play in the third quarter. Miline later completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Hawkins with 11:12 left in the fourth game to give the Braves a two touchdown lead.