THOMASVILLE -- The Lowndes High Vikings conclusively proved a timeless football axiom Friday night.

Motivation is nice but muscle is better.

Predicted by many to come out emotionally flat a week after beating Valdosta High for the Region 1-AAAAA and week before the state playoffs, No. 5 Lowndes did nothing of the sort. Instead, the Vikings put on a passing clinic for their hosts, breaking open a 7-7 tie with three second-quarter touchdowns to rout Class AAAA Thomas County Central 41-28 in a game that was far more one-sided than the 13-point margin.

With the win, Lowndes closed the regular season with a 9-1 record and plenty of momentum entering next Friday's postseason opener at home versus Griffin. Before turning his attention to the Bears though, Lowndes coach Milt Miller took moment to savor what his team has accomplished to date.

"Our seniors are the key, and they've led this group to 9-1," he said. "Not many teams can say they've been 9-1. That's quite an accomplishment. Our seniors have been our leaders and we've got confidence they're not going to let this group slack off. We're on a pretty good little run, and they'll have them ready to play."

Senior quarterback Barrett Wilkes went 4-for-5 passing on the opening drive of the second quarter, including a 21-yard toss to Zach Parker and a 15-yard scoring throw to Demetrius Henry. Brad Robinson booted home the point after, and Lowndes led for good 14-7 with 9:39 remaining in the half.

Following a three-and-out by the Yellow Jackets (6-4), Wilkes went back to work, completing three passes for first downs before finding junior tight end Cory Clemons for a 26-yard score and a 21-7 advantage. Jerone Martin intercepted a Victor Christian pass and returned it to the Viking 45 to set up another drive. Wilkes found Parker on three passes, including a 9-yard touchdown for a 28-7 LHS lead at the half.

"We saw the Crisp County game from last week, and we came out thinking we could throw on them, and we did," said Wilkes, who was 18-for-25 for 216 yards, all in the first half. "We talked about having a letdown and (how) we couldn't do that, because we wanted a 9-1 season. It looks a whole lot better going into the playoffs 9-1 than 8-2."

Miller began substituting liberally in the second half, but the first-string defense stayed out long enough to get a bizarre score. Christian was slow to set up an option play and sophomore defensive back Brad Johnson timed the pitch perfectly, swiping it from the senior quarterback. The ball fell out of his arms once, bounced right back in, and Johnson took off for a 41-yard touchdown. Yancey Hartman provided the PAT and a 35-7 lead.

"No one had the quarterback, so I picked the quarterback up and before he could pitch it, I intercepted it and took it to the end zone," Johnson said.

Jeff Williams got in on the fun two plays later, recovering an A.J. Walden fumble to set up a short scoring drive. Freeman Stephens plunged in from five yards away, but the extra point try was blocked, leaving Lowndes up 41-7.

Walden recovered to notch three late touchdown catches against the Viking reserves. He hauled in passes of 50 and 10 yards from Christian, and a 9-yard score from backup quarterback Eric Walden.

Earlier, Lowndes methodically moved the ball for a score on the game's opening series. A nifty draw out of a four-receiver formation gave Darrin Richardson a 43 gain and allowed him to punch the ball into the end zone from two yards out on the next play. Robinson's extra point gave the Vikings a 7-0 advantage.

Thomas County Central went three-and-out on its opening drive but got the ball back after Lowndes failed to convert a fourth down. The Yellow Jackets then put together their best drive of the night, running the veer to perfection with quick handoffs to tailbacks Mark Garland and Earl Brooks. TCC covered 66 yards in 12 plays, culminating in a 2-yard score by Christian. Justin Majors kicked the point-after to tie the game at 7-7 after one quarter.

Thomas County Central hosts Peach County next

Friday in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

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