LAGRANGE, Ga. - It's over.
But it's not the way that players, coaches and fans would have liked to see the 2008 football season at Thomson High School come to an end. The Bulldogs were upended 34-7 in the second-round of the Class AAA state playoffs at Callaway Stadium in LaGrange last Saturday night.
"I wish we could have had a better season," lamented legendary Thomson Head Coach Luther Welsh. "But we didn't and because of that, I take full responsibility since I'm head coach. At times, we played decent and then at other times, we just didn't get the job done. I take the blame for that."
The latter, perhaps, was the case against LaGrange. The Bulldogs, who ended their season 6-6, got behind quick and were never able to get back into the game. In fact, they were held off the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter when sophomore reserve quarterback Phillip Anderson was able to light a spark, offensively.
Even though Anderson's spark wasn't nearly enough to put Thomson back into the game, he was successful in getting the Bulldogs into the end zone. Anderson, replacing senior quarterback Brandon Turman, worked quickly to get the job done. He completed a long pass downfield to senior wide receiver Darius Eubanks, which got the Bulldogs to the Grangers' 45.
He then found his older brother, senior Will Anderson, open on a passing route, which moved the ball to the 33 as the clock wound down to below a minute left in the game.
The younger Anderson wasn't able to get the Bulldogs any closer, as his next couple of passes fell incomplete, including a third down play to Nick Rau in the end zone. Just when it looked as though the Grangers would shutout Thomson by taking over with just 33 seconds remaining, the Grangers fumbled. Thomson's Abram Cartledge recovered at the 22 and the Bulldogs were within striking distance once again.
A pass interference call against the Grangers helped the Bulldogs get the ball to the 11 where Anderson connected with his brother again - that one accounting for 10 yards. On the next play, it was the younger Anderson managing to get into the end zone from 1-yard out. Jay Bieltz's extra point made it a 34-7 game.
Still, Thomson wasn't finished.
An onsides kick by Bieltz resulted in Thomson's Brandon Huff recovering the football at the Grangers' 41. With just three seconds left, Anderson attempted another pass to Rau in the end zone. And Rau, also a sophomore, nearly caught it. The ball was just off his fingertips.
It seemed that every time Thomson attempted to get something going offensively, the Grangers, who have three players verbally committed to play for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, stopped them.
Overall, longtime Thomson defensive coordinator John Barnett said he was disappointed in the outcome of the game.
"I'm disappointed all the way around," said Coach Barnett. "I thought we were better prepared."
Behind the exceptional play of senior quarterback Rodney Tolbert and fine running of Ocie Salter, the Grangers rolled up 405 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs. Thomson, meanwhile, was able only to muster 212 yards.