The Thomasville Bulldogs knew what they were facing in Friday night's second-round state 2-A playoff game against the Forest Hill Yellow Jackets.
After all, Forest Hill was a team that had scored 90 points in a game during the regular season and 61 points in a first-round playoff victory.What the eighth-ranked Bulldogs needed was defense, and they got plenty of it on their way to a 12-10 win over the sixth-ranked Yellow Jackets.
Thomasville will host Mooresville, which defeated West Montgomery 28-7, next Friday in the quarterfinals.
``We had to get into a defensive game,' Thomasville head coach Allen Brown said. ``We couldn't score with them.'
But they could certainly shut down the high-powered Yellow Jackets, holding them to a total of 166 yards, 101 of that on the ground. That included a combined 92 yards by Chris Houston and Taylor Marsh, who had accounted for more than 3,200 yards on the ground this season.
Leading the defensive charge for the Bulldogs was defensive tackle Ryan Johnson, who spent most of the night swatting Yellow Jackets in their backfield.
``Everybody's been running away from me this year,' Johnson said. ``I finally got a chance to stick the ball.'
Johnson and company did just what they had to do in the first half, forcing three punts, something the Yellow Jackets were not accustomed to doing.
Forest Hills did manage to take a 3-0 halftime lead on a 27-yard field goal by Jay Sutton with 29 seconds left in the second quarter, and that score came after a Bulldog fumble at the Thomasville 12.
While the Bulldogs weren't exactly tearing up the field on offense in the first half, they got things moving in the third quarter, using quarterback Brian Caldwell's running skills.
On the second play of the third quarter, Caldwell sprinted out to his left, broke one tackle and raced 59 yards for the score. Mark Rossi's point-after kick was wide right, but the Bulldogs led 6-3.
The lead would jump to 12-3 in no time at all. After the defense stopped the Yellow Jackets on their own 20, the punt snap sailed over Tommy Aldridge's head and into the end zone. Aldridge recovered the ball and brought it out to the 5.
From there, it took one play for Lamont Pegues to burst into the end zone. Caldwell's two-point run attempt was stopped short, leaving the game in the hands of the defense.
That defense faltered a bit on a 10-play, 66-yard drive by the Yellow Jackets that ended with a 21-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lamont Taylor on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Thomasville's defense closed the door on Forest Hills by stopping a fourth-and-7 play at the Yellow Jackets' 19 with 2:55 left. The offense ran out the clock from there.