THOMSON - It wasn't easy to watch Thomson make the boldest of defensive statements last week in beating Class AA, No. 1-ranked Washington-Wilkes. Friday night for Tyrone Howard and Grymecus Hart, it was their turn to prove the Bulldogs defense is for real.
"Our defense came up big without us against Wilkes and tonight was a chance to make another statement in the region," said defensive lineman Tyrone Howard, who led a big-play Thomson defense with two sacks in a 30-13 victory over Greenbrier, in the Region 3-AAA opener for both teams at The Brickyard.
With Greenbrier down 23-6 and driving late in the third quarter, Howard's sack of quarterback Mark Thornhill on a third-down play all but sealed Thomson's third straight victory, against the talented first-year
The Bulldogs ground game took advantage of the host of opportunities provided on defense, coming through with its biggest offensive output, as well - 313 yards rushing.
Marc Bailey rushed for 96 yards on 19 carries and capped the Dogs scoring with his second touchdown of the night - an 8-yard run to put the Bulldogs ahead 30-6.
Junior Terrell Roberts led the Bulldogs with 105 yards rushing on 14 carries, and scored Thomson's second touchdown of the game and his second of the season.
"You worry about a letdown after last week against Washington-Wilkes, and I was proud of the way these guys came out ready to play," said Thomson fourth-year coach Butch Jacobs. "It was important to win that first region game, but it's still too early to tell where we stack up. Greenbrier did a great job, but this is a fledgling program and it's different than playing the Burke Countys and the Joseys. We'll see how good we are next week."
For Jacobs, who led Silver Bluff to two state titles, there was no downplaying another strong effort from his defense that held the mighty Washington-Wilkes rushing attack to just 117 yards in a 9-7 win thought by many Bulldogs fans to be the biggest win in 10 years at Thomson.
"I thought the defense played great, and we're still without some starters," Jacobs said of a unit that limited Greenbrier to 125 yards on offense and just 74 yards rushing. "Tyrone and Grymecus both gave us a lift, and I think they're only gonna get better as time goes on."
After the Dogs defense got to work quickly, tackling senior Mark Smith in the end zone for a safety on Greenbrier's opening possession, Thomson's backs got rolling themselves.
Grounding it out on an 11-play, 51-yard scoring drive in 4:22, capped by senior fullback Freddie Germany's 2-yard TD put the Dogs up 9-0 with 4:22 left in the first quarter.
Smith at fullback and Thornhill helped the Wolfpack answer with a Smith 1-yard touchdown to make the score 9-6 late in the first quarter, but Thomson took over from there.
Junior linebacker Rodney Neal intercepted a Thornhill pass early in the second quarter, and Thomson again ground out another TD drive to make it 16-6.
"This defense isn't even at its best, but we still got after it and got the job done," Story said. "This is Thomson's year for defense, and we beat a pretty good team tonight."
Hart, who missed Thomson's first two games with a knee injury, gave the Dogs an extra lift when he entered the game in the second quarter.
"I wanted to play this one because this was a win we had to have," said the junior lineman. "It's time to tell the rest of the region that Thomson's for real."
Greenbrier6 0 0 7-13
Thomson9 7 7 7-30
T-Safety,Mark Smith tackled in end zone
T-Freddie Germany 2 run (Marco Ramsey kick)
G-Mark Smith 1 run (kick failed)
T-Marc Bailey 8 run (Ramsey kick)
T-Terrell Roberts 4 run (Ramsey kick)
T-Bailey 8 run (Ramsey kick)
G-Patrick Jones 8 pass from Mark Thornhill (Adam Wise kick)