Playing without tailback Chris Jordan (sprained ankle) in the first half, the Bulldogs’ more limited offense found itself in a 7-7 tie with the visiting Indians. But Jordan entered on the first series of the third quarter and broke loose on his second carry for a 43-yard go-ahead touchdown.
William Bussey added a 95-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give Thomson (8-0, 2-0 3-AAA) a 21-7 lead.
Dodge County had a chance to tie it late, but Torrie Battle intercepted Cole Honeycutt’s fourth-down pass with 2:11 remaining. Jordan then sealed the victory with a 48-yard third-down run.
“We were trying to keep (Jordan) out if we could and see if we could move the ball and make it without him,” said Thomson coach Milan Turner. “I thought we could. We missed some opportunities. We put him (in) and he gave us a spark.”
Jordan finished with 102 yards on only seven second-half carries. Bussey led the Bulldogs with 123 yards on 10 rushes.
“It didn’t feel right not starting,” said Jordan, who was anxious to get into the game despite the ankle sprain suffered last week against Swainsboro. “I just wanted to get in and help the team.”
The narrow victory over Dodge County (4-4, 0-2) sets the table for a showdown with unbeaten Washington County next Friday night in Sandersville, Ga. Thomson beat WACO 45-38 in double overtime last season at the House of Pain. The Bulldogs lead the overall series with the Golden Hawks 26-10 dating back to 1959, but Washington County has won four of the past six meetings.
“It’s hard to get excited when we’ve got so many things to improve on,” said Turner.
The Bulldogs were still clinging to a 14-7 lead when a Dodge County punt pinned them back at their own 5-yard line with eight minutes left. On second down, Bussey took a handoff up the middle and outran the Dodge defense for a 95-yard touchdown to make it 21-7 with 7:55 remaining.
Dodge County cut through the Thomson defense, marching 67 yards in seven plays capped by Marcus Brown’s explosive 20-yard touchdown run off left tackle.
It took Thomson two offensive series to answer, the first effort stalling on fourth down at the Dodge 4.
But on the next series, the Bulldogs overcame a holding penalty that nullified a 25-yard fourth-down touchdown run.
Thomson rushed for only 89 yards in the first half, while Dodge County had 90 on the ground. But with Jordan adding a spark, the Bulldogs piled up 263 rushing yards in the second half, while Dodge rushed for only 17 additional yards after intermission.