Originally created 09/01/01

Thomson strikes early



LOUISVILLE, Ga. - Demarco McNair is off to a flying start in his quest for a second straight 1,000-yard season.

The junior fullback rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in three quarters of action, leading Thomson to a 28-0 victory over Jefferson County in the season opener for both teams.

Sophomore halfback Ricky Hill also had a big night for the Bulldogs (1-0), breaking loose for runs of 61 and 63 yards to finish with 128 yards on just three carries.

"I expect for Demarco to have another good year, and we feel our offense is better than last year's offense," said Thomson coach Luther Welsh, whose Bulldogs rushed for 307 yards and held Jefferson County to just 171 yards on the ground. "We haven't shown that yet, but we're going to get there."

Coming off a 7-4 season and a first-round exit from the Class AAAA playoffs last year, the Bulldogs scored on its first two drives and held on to dispose of Jefferson County with relative ease.

Thomson's win spoiled the coaching debut of Jefferson County's J.B. Arnold, who took over the program for longtime coach Charles Rutland, who retired following a disappointing 2-8 season in 2000.

McNair, who rushed for 1,005 yards as a sophomore last season, got the Bulldogs on the board 1:24 into the contest with a 1-yard touchdown run, set up by a 61-yard run by Hill to the 3 on the opening play of the game.

Less than two minutes later, the Bulldogs took advantage of a turnover when Jefferson County fumbled on its opening possession, making it 14-0 when quarterback Deon Palmer connected with tight end Michael Williams on a 35-yard TD pass with 8:39 left in the first quarter.

Palmer extended the Bulldogs' lead with 21 seconds to go in the first half, running it in from 15 yards to make it 21-0.

McNair capped the scoring 6:44 into the third quarter with his second TD of the night, an 8-yard run that made it 28-0.

"We messed up on some things and we've got a lot to improve on, but we did all right," McNair said. "We came out strong and scored on our first two drives. That was important, because last year we were a second half team, so we wanted to come out and get on board as quickly as we could."

Welsh was impressed with how Jefferson County hung around for most of the game, despite their youth and size disadvantage.

"I though they did well and played with a lot of spirit and hustle," Welsh said. "They're young and it's their first year under coach Arnold, and they've got to get used to playing his type of football. But they stayed in the ball game and played well. They have a chance to be a good football team."

Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or robm99@hotmail.com