Originally created 10/26/02

Dogs stays on mission with rout



THOMSON, Ga. - It's the same story week after week, but the Thomson Bulldogs never get tired of tediously terminating the opposition.

Steady as a metronome, top-ranked Thomson rolled to 49-0 victory over Jones County at The Brickyard, continuing its quest to win the school's first state championship in 17 years.

Thomson's defense held Jones County to minus-3 yards rushing and 27 total yards in the mud and muck of The Brickyard. The Bulldogs (8-0, 6-0 Region 3-AAAA) countered with 292 rushing yards and 337 total, led by DeMarco McNair's three touchdowns.

"It's good we could play that well under the circumstances," Thomson coach Luther Welsh said of the intermittent rain that seemed to trouble Jones County (1-6, 1-4). "The defense played well, and that's what you've got to have to win championships."

A state championship is firmly on Thomson's mind, but the experienced team is being careful not to get ahead of itself. Forward thinking cost the Bulldogs against Dalton in the playoffs last year - a defeat Welsh called "a good learning experience."

"We're ready but we can't look forward to the playoffs," said senior quarterback Deon Palmer. "That's how we messed up last year, by looking forward to playing in the (Georgia) Dome."

Thomson rushed to a 35-0 lead at halftime Friday, but the key to the offensive was the defense. The Bulldogs held Jones County to minus-5 yards in the first half. Ten Greyhounds plays went for zero or minus yardage; only two plays gained more than 3 yards.

Worse for Jones County was the punting game. One fumbled punt snap and punts of 18 and 10 yards set Thomson up for scoring drives at the Jones County 38, 7 and 23. An interception set up a 36-yard touchdown drive, and the longest Thomson needed to march to score was 54 yards.

With the short field, all Thomson needed to amass was 169 total yards in the first half to build the big lead. The Bulldogs defense never allowed more than one first down on any Jones County drive the entire game.

"They make our job very easy," said Palmer of the defense.

After McNair broke out of a shoestring tackle for a 67-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Bulldogs' second third-quarter possession, Welsh pulled his starters. The second-team defense yielded only one first down by Jones County and the second-team offense came within a goal-line fumble of adding two touchdowns.

McNair finished with 97 yards and three touchdowns. Palmer rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown and threw for another to Ricky Hill. Antwan Johnson and Darrius Harris scored Thomson's other touchdowns.

THOMSON 49, JONES COUNTY 0

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.