THOMSON — Lineman Britt Helton walked around the field carrying an empty water bucket after the deed had been done.
Washington County’s players doused coach Joel Ingram after the third-ranked Golden Hawks clinched the Region 3-AAA championship with a 55-12 victory over Thomson on Friday night at the Brickyard.
Washington County (8-0, 3-0) claimed the region with one game left in the regular season. The Golden Hawks snapped a two-game losing streak to the Bulldogs to win their first region title since 2006.
“Tremendous effort by our team. We took care of business,” Ingram said. “From start to finish we played hard. We ran the football hard. We played good defense. So I couldn’t be happier to get a win against a quality football team in a special venue like this.”
The Golden Hawks eclipsed the 50-point mark for the fourth time this season and became the second team to score 50 or more on Thomson in the Brickyard this season. Washington County rolled up 451 yards of total offense, dominating from start to finish. Melvin Hill rushed 16 times for 171 yards with two touchdowns, while Danyale Wicker gained 112 yards on 13 carries.
Thomson (3-5, 2-1), which has a bye week before finishing the regular season at Jefferson County, couldn’t slow down the Golden Hawks’ running game and couldn’t muster much offense either. The Bulldogs rushed for just 98 yards, much of that total coming on Jalen McNair’s fourth-quarter effort (six rushes, 77 yards, touchdown).
On its opening drive, Washington County went 42 yards in six plays. Quarterback A.J. Gray rushed up the middle for five yards to open the scoring.
On their next drive, the Golden Hawks started on the Thomson 34. After Gray connected with Josh Burden on a 32-yard pass play, Hill punched it in from the 2 to stake Washington County to a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
“It’s just no huddle, no mercy,” Gray said. “We just started fast and wanted to see if we could finish it.”
Thomson trailed 21-6 when their fortunes turned for the worse. After stopping Washington County and getting the ball at the Bulldogs 7, quarterack Chris Tutt tried to pitch the ball on first down, but the ball hit the turf. Chris Edwards tracked down the loose ball in the end zone to push the Golden Hawks’ lead to 22 midway through the second quarter.
Washington County led 35-6 at intermission.
“When we’re scoring on offense, that’s like putting gas in the tank of our defense. And vice versa,” Ingram said. “People want to talk offense – spread this, points this. Our defense has been the story this year. Our defense has played rock solid all year.”