THOMASVILLE –– Region 1-2A football opened for the Brooks County Trojans (3-4, 0-1 Region 1-2A) and Thomasville Bulldogs (3-4, 1-0), with the Bulldogs prevailing 31-20 on Friday.
Trojans quarterback Ni’Tavion Burrus connected with one of his receivers, but the ball was knocked loose. Thomasville linebacker Ty Anderson recovered the fumble and scored to bring the Bulldogs’ lead to 28-13 with 11:18 left in the game.
On the next Thomasville drive, the Trojans returned the favor.
As Thomasville's Ronnie Baker scrambled, a gang of Trojans forced him to fumble before defensive end Jaquan Dawson scooped and scored on a 70-yard run to bring the Trojans within eight, 28-20 with 6:48 remaining in the game.
“I expected a momentum change,” Brooks head coach Maurice Freeman said. “I thought our guys started to function well and we made plays towards the end but didn’t finish.”
Looking to put the game out of reach, the Bulldogs called on kicker Hurston Waldrep for a field goal on third down with 2 minutes left.
The first region game for both teams had a playoff atmosphere. Fans from both sides were loud from the jump and the matchup hadn’t even kicked off yet.
On the Trojans' first drive of the game, they found themselves in a desperate situation as they were pinned back to their 25-yard line on 3rd and 19.
But Burrus would not be denied. Rolling to his right, Burrus fired and found receiver Tramaine Demps streaking down the field for a 66-yard pass play.
It was gravy from there as running back Omari Arnold rushed the ball two consecutive times before scoring on a one-yard direct snap to open with a 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs tried to get into the end zone from the four-yard line but failed as they settled for three points on a field goal by Waldrep with 4:50 to go in the first quarter.
The Trojans made their first mistake of the game as Burrus fumbled the ball on a scramble that set the Bulldogs up on the 30-yard line.
The Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize on the good field position, only gaining seven yards before turning the ball over on downs.
To transition to the second quarter, Burrus found himself deep in a hole on fourth down when completed a pass to receiver Devin Edwards on a post route to convert.
Two plays later, Burrus connected with receiver Willie Brown for a touchdown, extending their lead to 13-3.
“I felt like we could run and throw the deep ball on them.” Freeman said. “And I feel that we accomplished those things.”
The Bulldogs responded on the next drive to get their first touchdown score of the game when quarterback Ronnie Baker completed a pass to receiver Taraje Felton for 21 yards.
On the Trojans’ chance to get a two-score advantage, penalties told the story as they racked up multiple holding and false start calls, forcing them to punt.
“I’m very disappointed but officiating is nothing to cry about,” Freeman said. “We didn’t do our job as a staff and players.”
Scoring stalled for a while until the Bulldogs punted the ball to the one-yard line, pinning the Trojans to the end zone.
It only took one play as Burrus was sacked for a safety, bringing the Bulldogs within one point.
The Bulldogs’ final drive of the half, which came after the safety came to an end as they attempted to score a touchdown.
As the Trojan defense denied, the Bulldogs brought out Waldrep to grab a 15-13 lead as time expired on the first half.
The Bulldogs received the ball first in the second half and started quickly. Running back Ricky Fulton capped off the opening drive with a five-yard run, driving back Trojan defenders until he reached the end zone.
The Trojans’ offense stalled for their next two drives, gaining a total of nine yards.
Thomasville: Visits Fitzgerald next Friday.
Brooks County: Travels to Early County next Friday to face the Bobcats (4-2).
Kickoff for next Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 at Standifer Field in Blakeley.