THOMSON — No. 2 Thomson rediscovered its strength in the nick of time to finish the Class AAAA heavyweight trilogy with No. 4 Jefferson.
The Bulldogs drove 64 yards in 15 plays to eat up nearly five-and-a-half minutes, with Bubba Murray scoring the go-ahead touchdown from the 1 with 30 seconds remaining to beat the Dragons 20-14 on Friday night at The Brickyard.
It was the third meeting in two years between the suddenly familiar rivals that had not faced each other since 1963 until 2016. Thomson swept Jefferson last year, winning 42-20 on the road in the regular season and 27-6 in the state semifinal rematch at The Brickyard.
Thomson’s trio of rushers – Murray, Tyrek Braswell and Tyler Curry – each scored on 1-yard touchdowns as they rolled up a combined 217 yards.
Jefferson (2-1) had rallied from an early 13-0 hole with a pair of Colby Wood touchdowns to take a 14-13 in the third quarter.
Thomson – which had shot itself in the foot much of the night with penalties and some poorly timed passes – got the ball back with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter at its own 36 and went back to its reliable three-headed ground game.
Braswell rushed for 55 yards, Curry 20 and Murray 3 on the drive that included three Bulldogs penalties. One of them nullified a 33-yard Murray touchdown.
But they ultimately pushed it in and curiously elected to kick the point-after to go ahead 20-14.
The Dragons got the ball back at their own 39 with 23 seconds remaining but threw three consecutive incomplete passes before a fourth-down Hail Mary was intercepted.
Thomson looked ready to cruise, driving 69 yards in seven plays for the opening score. A 30-yard strike down the seam to Christian Tutt set up a 1-yard Tyrek Braswell touchdown run and a quick 7-0 Bulldogs lead.
After forcing a three-and-out, Thomson struck on the first play of its second possession on a quick slant route by Marcus Cade that went 43 yards, but the touchdown was nullified by an illegal man downfield penalty.
Jefferson quarterback Bryce Moore fumbled a snap and Thomson’s Jalek Nicholson recovered it at the Dragons 14.
Five rushes later, Tyler Curry scored from 1 yard and the Bulldogs led 13-0 with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
Up to then, the Dragons only had minus-10 yards of offense. Jefferson, however, drove 65 yards in 12 plays with Wood scoring on a 15-yard cutback run to cut it to 13-7.
Two possessions later the Dragons were driving again, but three consecutive incompletions stalled at the Thomson 23. The Bulldogs’ effort to score before halftime – extended by a fake punt – ended with consecutive sacks after reaching the Dragons 29.
Thomson held the offensive edge 155 yards to 91 for Jefferson in the first half.
Braswell finished with 98 yards, Murray 73 and Curry 46. The Bulldogs limited Dragons rusher Wood to 65 yards but got burned for 155 passing yards from Jefferson.