It wasn't a matter of whether Thomson's vaunted Wing-T offense would get rolling. It was a matter of when.
With its running attack getting on track in the second half, the Bulldogs cleared the first hurdle in coach Luther Welsh's farewell campaign, defeating Richmond Academy on the road, 28-14.
After missing the playoffs last year, Thomson notched a key victory over one of its toughest Region 3-AAA North opponents. The Bulldogs now have the inside track to claim their sub-region's No. 1 seed.
"He's done a lot for us," Thomson quarterback Josh Jones said about Welsh. "We want to send him out on a good note this year.
"This really sets us up well."
Jones and his teammates shook off their first-half doldrums after Welsh lectured them at intermission about the difference in two weeks. Seven days earlier, Thomson went to Hephzibah and pounded the Rebels.
"Because of last week, I think they thought it was going to be easy," he said. "Richmond Academy has a good football team. I tried to tell them that all week."
"We were just going through the motions in the first half," Jones said. "In the second half, we were just clicking."
After mustering just 88 rushing yards the first two quarters, Thomson (4-1, 1-0) went into halftime tied at 7 with Richmond Academy. The Musketeers, despite allowing Dontavis Brown's opening 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, kept the Bulldogs in check until things fell apart in the third quarter.
Richmond Academy (2-3, 0-1) opened the second half with the ball. But three second-half turnovers, four total, derailed the Musketeers' chances of winning.
"We were playing well at times," Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes said. "I think our kids got a little down after all those turnovers.
Two plays into the third quarter, Drek Reid tossed the second of three interceptions. Thomson's defensive front pressured him most of the evening, and Reid finished 14 of 32 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
A Reid fumble in Musketeers' territory later in the third quarter allowed Thomson to open up the game. Jones capped a seven-play, 34-yard drive with a 2-yard run around the left end. The Bulldogs led 21-7.
On its next drive, Thomson opened with textbook Welsh football -- toss sweep right, fullback dive, toss sweep left. After nine plays, eight of them on the ground, the Bulldogs faced fourth-and-1 at the Richmond Academy 18.
Jones sneaked ahead for a yard and a first down. Four plays later, Jones faked up the middle to Chris Jordan and kept around the left side for a 2-yard touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, Thomson led 21-7.
The Bulldogs gained 166 yards in the second half, finishing with 254 yards on 49 carries. Jordan led Thomson's rushing effort, gaining 110 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown.