Friday's game brought some big firsts for the Thomson Bulldogs. But the players, coaches and fans would rather have done without all those dubious distinctions.
Thomson's 8-0 first round playoff exit at the hands of Carver of Columbus marked the first time since 1978 that the Bulldogs had ended the season with two losses. It was also the first time since 1958 Thomson had ended the season with two shutout losses, according to thomsonfootball.com.
If there was a bright spot in the midst of the offensive funk the Bulldogs found themselves in the final two games, it was on the other side of the football. Combined, Washington County and Carver only scored 17 points against the young defense.
"We played well enough defensively where I thought we could win, even though they played against a pretty good team," said Thomson Coach Luther Welsh. "The defense kept us in the ballgame. Offensively, we didn't do nothing."
Carver defensive back Latavius Watts intercepted two passes to halt Thomson scoring threats and helped his team walk out of Memorial Stadium with a victory.
"That was probably the difference in the ball game," Carver Coach Dell McGee said of the interceptions.
Carver's points came on a 10-yard second quarter touchdown run by Malcolm Chinn and a fourth quarter safety. A turnover gave the Bulldogs (9-2) a chance to try and tie the score with 3:14 remaining in the game.
They took over at the Carver 35-yard line after Thomson's Roderick Roberts picked off quarterback Deron Furr's pass near the sideline.
The Bulldogs needed a touchdown and two point conversion to even the score. But Watts stepped in front of wingback Nathaniel Jones' pass on second down near the 10-yard line to give Carver the ball back. Watts returned the ball to the 39.
Carver's lone touchdown drive covered 47 yards. The Tigers got the good field position after Thomson return man Rodney Roberts muffed a punt. But Coach Welsh was proud of the way the defense played.
"They are the biggest surprise I've probably ever had in coaching because we didn't think they were going to do well," Coach Welsh said. "They played together, and they had the fire in them, and they did the job. If we had that on offense, we'd still be playing this weekend and probably been undefeated."
Carver held the Thomson offense to 12 yards of total offense in the first half and 51 in the second half. During their opening drive of the third quarter the Bulldogs drove to the Carver 18.
That drive ended when Watts leaped in the air and intercepted Thomson quarterback Anthony "Pooh" Erwin at the 3-yard line.
"Thomson football is just hard-nosed football," Coach Welsh said. "It's always been that way, and we got away from that. But we can't finesse people. We ain't got that kind of skill people to finesse people. We've got to line up and knock people off the football, and that's my job, and I'll get that done between now and next year."
Thomson 0, Carver 8
Star of the game: Defensive end Dexter Sneed and Linebacker Stedman Grant anchored a stout defense for the Bulldogs. Sneed had 11 total tackles and stopped the run on containment duty. Grant led the team with 17 total tackles.
Play of the game: Down 8-0 with 3:14 remaining in the game, Roderick Roberts picked off a pass that gave Thomson possession and a chance to tie the game from the 35-yard line.