Battle and his Thomson teammates are now seeking another milestone – win two more games to get the program back to the Georgia Dome for the first time in a decade.
Battle scored two touchdowns Friday night, including one in the pivotal third quarter, to help lead the Bulldogs to a 35-19 win over Johnson-Savannah in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
“It’s a blessing,” Battle said. “We can’t get the big head. We just have to stay focused.”
Thomson (12-0), which is making its deepest playoff run since it won the 2002 state title, will face undefeated Cartersville in the quarterfinals. The schools will flip a coin to decide the game site.
“They’re an undefeated team and we’re an undefeated team,” Bulldogs coach Milan Turner said. “We’ll go into that game and see what we can do. Hopefully, we’ll play at home.”
Thomson dominated Johnson-Savannah (5-7), which scored two touchdowns in the final 71 seconds, including one off an onsides kick. The Bulldogs broke open up a close game with 21 points in the third quarter, including a Battle 60-yard scoring run. He also rushed four times for 68 yards, scored on another 5-yard run, returned a kickoff 50 yards, and recorded an interception.
“He’s been that way all year,” Turner said. “He’s one of a group of guys that has big-play ability. He’s a guy you expect to get loose on Friday night.”
With Thomson starting quarterback Chris Tutt nursing an ankle injury he suffered the previous week, junior backup Quay Cummings played an efficient game, connecting on two of his three pass attempts for 28 yards. Cummings opened the scoring late in the second quarter when the left-hander rolled right and found Ryan Kelly open in the end zone for a 21-yard score.
Thomson led 14-7 at intermission and held Johnson-Savannah, which gained 367 yards, to one first down in the third quarter. On the Bulldogs’ first possession of the second half, Battle broke free around the left side from the 40 and darted down the sidelines untouched.
Later in the quarter, Thomson defensive end Bernard Dawson hurried quarterback Shyheim Roberts and batted his pass in the air. Jared Hollimon snatched the ball, diving two yards into the end zone for the touchdown. Thomson pushed its lead to 28-7 and never looked back.