Thomson's players knew they had to win their final game to be the outright Region 3-AAA champs. What they didn't expect was that the other Bulldogs powerhouse in the North Division would put up such a fight.
Butler nearly played the role of spoiler in the Brickyard, but a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter was the difference, giving Thomson a slim 6-3 win.
The victory was good enough for Thomson coach Luther Welsh, but he saw a slightly different team than the one that delivered a 34-8 pounding to Glenn Hills last Friday. He gave Butler much of the credit.
"Butler's a better team than people think they are," Welsh said. "I didn't think we played as well as we did the other night (against Glenn Hills), but they had something to do with it. We did enough to win."
Butler (5-5, 4-2) managed only 84 yards of total offense in the game, but was able to get within field goal range early in the third quarter, when Cody Swartz chipped in a 22-yard attempt to give Butler a 3-0 lead.
Thomson's touchdown came with 6:31 left in the game on a 4-yard Demarcus Wilson run. Clifton Belton and Wilson got Thomson within scoring range on long runs during the drive. Wilson ended the night with 110 yards on 20 carries.
"They were keying on the outside from the previous games, and they just forgot about me," Wilson said. "We just pounded it on the inside."
Thomson (9-1, 6-0) dominated time of possession and offensive yardage in the first half, but neither team could manage to produce where it counted most, on the scoreboard. Penalties and fumbles kept Thomson from gaining any momentum.
"I thought we did better in the second half," Welsh said. "Of course I don't know why we were jumping off sides ...We're a first-and-10 team, and we don't need to make first-and-15."
Thomson almost scored on its first drive. A steady diet of Wilson runs up the middle and Dan Ivey quarterback keepers got the ball to the 12-yard line.
However, Belton fumbled the ball on the 1, and Butler recovered in the end zone.
Three straight three-and-out possessions for Butler kept the Thomson defense off the field for long stretches. Thomson managed 143 yards of rushing in the first half while holding Butler to only 9 yards, all on the ground.
The win left Thomson undefeated in subregion play and gave the Bulldogs the region championship without having a mini-playoff game.
"It feels good," said Thomson defensive lineman Kelcey Neal about earning a region championship.