The rain was a double-edged sword for Harlem in The Junkyard on Friday night. It slowed the potent Thomson offense, but it also kept the red-and-black Bulldogs from scoring. They fell 25-0 against the Region 3B-AAA opponent.
Harlem kicker Kenji Link couldn't get the footing needed to boot two field goal chances of 47 and 31 yards in the first half, and a Brendan Gray fumble on a pitch attempt at Thomson's 10-yard line with one minute left before halftime ended another scoring chance.
Big plays made the difference in the game. Thomson fullback LaBrandon Hudson broke free for touchdown runs of 64, 80 and 11 yards to propel his team to victory. Kwynta "D.T." Brown added a late score from 44 yards out. Hudson finished the game with 203 yards on 12 carries.
"It's just the offensive line," Hudson said. "They are just giving me big holes, and I'm just picking my way through them and making good runs. But I can't put it on myself. You know it's the offensive line. Without a good offensive line, you can't have a good back."
The wet field caused both teams to think twice about throwing the ball. Neither team completed a pass in the game. Other than the big Hudson runs, Thomson (8-0, 3-0 Region 3B-AAA) couldn't generate much on the ground in the first half, either.
"I thought they did an outstanding job, as wet as it was, to do as well as they did not fumbling the football and mishandling the ball," Thomson coach Luther Welsh said of his team's two fumbles in the rain. "That was the key to the whole thing, really."
Harlem (2-6, 1-2) was able to move the ball more effectively in the second half behind Gray and fullback Trey Crain. Harlem ended up with 259 yards of offense. Grey had 93 of those yards on 21 carries, and Crain ended up with 107 yards on 23 carries.
But Thomson's defense held Harlem to nothing where it mattered most - on the scoreboard. The shutout was Thomson's third in a row.
Thomson scored twice in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Hudson's 11-yard touchdown came with 10:09 remaining. Midway through the quarter, Harlem had to go for it on fourth and 4, and a 1-yard Gray keeper gave the ball back to Thomson 45 yards from another score.
Brown ran for 1 yard on the first play of the drive and took it the rest of the way on the second. He scored with 5:56 left in the game.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.