THOMSON, Ga. – Thomson didn’t face much resistance Friday night at the Brickyard in a 48-8 romp over North Clayton in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
Thomson overcame a pair of fumbles in the first minute-and-a-half that led to a 8-0 deficit by scoring 42 unanswered points to finish the first half. The Bulldogs defense held the visiting Eagles to 8 total yards on the night.
Christian Tutt was efficient with his offensive touches in the first half, scoring touchdowns of 6 and 8 yards on his first two receptions and rushing for another 19-yard score out of a wildcat formation.
Bubba Murray rushed 14 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns, inheriting most of the workload when starting tailback Tyrek Braswell was carried off with an ankle injury early in the second quarter. Murray’s 65-yard score up the middle on the first possession of the second half was the only score after intermission.
Thomson (9-1) advances to play at Region 1-AAAA champion Americus-Sumter (9-2) next Friday. The Panthers were a 27-14 winner over Howard in the first round Friday night.
The winner of next week’s game is likely to have to face undisputed No. 1 and defending state champion Cartersville in the quarterfinals. The Purple Hurricanes and Clemson-committed quarterback Trevor Lawrence (13,482 career passing yards) beat the Bulldogs 58-7 in last year’s Class AAAA championship game at the Georgia Dome.
North Clayton (4-7) jumped to a quick lead after recovering a Braswell fumble on the first snap of the game at the Thomson 29.
On the next play, quarterback Keelin Lee snuck straight up the middle for a 29-yard touchdown and added a two-point conversion run for an 8-0 lead just 43 seconds into the game.
Murray fumbled the ball way again for the Bulldogs two plays later, but the Eagles offense could do no more damage the rest of the night. North Clayton completed only one pass all game and failed to score twice in the second half after starting drives at the Thomson 9 and 11.
Thomson scored on six of its last eight possessions in the first half, taking a 42-8 lead into the lockerroom when Mills Ridings hit Tyrese Jones in the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard score with 13 seconds left.
Ridings finished with 97 passing yards and three touchdowns.
North Clayton came into Friday’s first-round playoff game considerably outweaponed.
The Eagles hadn’t scored more than 15 points in any game this season and only reached double figures four times in averaging 8.7 points per game. Three of their four wins came against 1-9 teams.
Thomson, on the other hand, came in averaging 40.7 points per game and only scored fewer than 50 points four times.
No. 1 Cartersville is seeded to potentially face four consecutive ranked teams after the first round in defense of its AAAA title, including a potential rematch with Thomson in the quarterfinals. The Purple Hurricanes opened with a 48-21 rout of Pickens County and will face No. 6 Blessed Trinity on Friday.