Thomson High School's high-powered wing-T offense and stingy brick-wall defense proved too tough for a young, inexperienced Cross Creek High School team, as the Bulldogs roared to a 43-0 rout of the Razorbacks.
It was the first region game of the year for both teams. Thomson, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAA, returns home this week to face Lakeside High School.
Friday's game was never close. Thomson's first-string players sat out for the majority of the second half to allow the younger Dogs playing time. The win increased Thomson's record to 3-0, while the loss dropped Cross Creek to 0-3. Thomson's near-perfect offense, led by senior quarterback Deon Palmer, amassed 377 yards rushing and 34 yards passing, and gained 18 first downs.
Coach John Barnett's THS defense, led by senior Danny Verdun, held Cross Creek to 118 yards rushing and one yard passing the whole night. This was Thomson's first shutout of the year, after allowing Hart County 13 points in the season-opener and Washington-Wilkes seven points in the second game of the year. Coach Luther Welsh's offense is now averaging 37.2 points per game, after scoring 42, 28 and 43 points respectively so far this season.
Junior runningback Antwan Johnson was Thomson's leading rusher for the night with 127 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. His longest run in the game was a 41-yard gain in the second quarter that led to a touchdown. He was followed in rushing by Danny Warren with 82 yards on five carries and two touchdowns, Demarco McNair with 54 yards on seven carries and one touchdown, Marlo Gant with 25 yards on three carries, Palmer with 24 yards on four carries and one touchdown, Clifton Belton with two yards on three carries and Demarcus Wilson with 21 yards on four carries.
Thomson's first points of the game came at the 5:28 mark of the first quarter after controlling the ball from the opening kickoff. On the 11th play of the initial drive, Palmer kept the ball after the snap and cruised into the endzone from five yards out to put Thomson ahead 6-0. Aaron Johnson's extra point made the score 7-0.
The Bulldogs put more points on the scoreboard with 7:31 remaining in the second quarter when McNair scored from the six-yard line. The PAT by Johnson made the score 14-0. After an interception of a Cross Creek pass by Thomson's Lejuan Johnson on the next Razorback possession, the Bulldogs started their next drive on Cross Creek's 30 yard line. On the third play following the interception, Antwan Johnson dragged a Razorback defender six yards to cross the goal line and increase Thomson's lead to 20-0 with 1:46 left to play in the first half. Johnson's extra point made the score 21-0.
After three incomplete passes from the Razorback offensive unit, a punt and a late-hit penalty called against the Cross Creek punting team, the Bulldogs started their next possession at midfield with time running down in the first half. After several runs by Antwan Johnson, and with the help of a holding penalty on Cross Creek, the Bulldogs found themselves on the 19 yard line with a first down and less than 20 seconds on the clock. Danny Warren scooted 19 yards for the score with only five seconds left in the second quarter. Johnson's PAT made the score 28-0 at halftime.
The Bulldogs special teams put the next points on the board on the kickoff to begin the third quarter. After a towering kickoff by Johnson that placed the ball on the Cross Creek 5 yard line, Razorback Eric Scott fielded the ball on a bounce and was tackled in the endzone by Thomson's Jonathan Worrell for a safety with only eight seconds elapsed in the third quarter. The heads-up play made the score 30-0.
Thomson put more points on its side of the scoreboard at the 7:55 mark of the third quarter, when Warren raced to the endzone from the 30 yard line. The PAT was wide left, making the score 36-0. After Johnson's long kickoff, Cross Creek began its next possession on its own 11 yard line. Razorback quarterback Eric Scott attempted a pass downfield, but Bulldog defensive back Jonathan Worrell was the first one to the ball. He returned the interception to the 10 yard line. From there, Bulldog sophomore quarterback Dan Ivey ran the 10 yards on the first offensive play to score Thomson's final touchdown of the night at the 6:57 mark of the fourth quarter. Johnson's PAT made the final score 43-0.
"This win was good for us," said a happy Coach Welsh. "We work to win and try to win every game. Our young players did a great job for us in the second half to give them the experience and playing time that they need."
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