TCC 41, Bainbridge 34: Pilcher almost leads Bainbridge to win vs. old school in second trip back

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

THOMASVILLE -- The split-back veer offense was back on display in Thomas County Stadium on Friday night.

Thomas County Central's run-oriented attack appeared ready for the postseason.

In the Yellow Jackets' final tuneup before the start of the GHSA Class AAAA playoffs, Central scored 21 first-quarter points and held off a late Bainbridge charge to wn, 41-34.

Central ran for 358 yards and scored on six rushing touchdowns.

"I'm real proud of our offense," Central coach Bill Shaver said. "I thought our offense had a good rebound from last week. We moved it pretty much at will. I thought our offensive line did a good job. I thought Eric Dodson had a great night, making right decisions and key third-down throws."

Dodson paced the Yellow Jackets with 177 rushing yards, including a 65-yard touchdown jaunt that gave Central a 41-20 lead in the fourth quarter. It was one of three touchdowns for the senior signal-caller.

Curtis Brooks added 110 rushing yards on 11 attempts, while tallying two touchdowns.

The Bearcats didn't concede the game, however. Bainbridge scored two touchdowns late in the game following turnovers by Central's second-string offense. The Yellow Jackets had to recover an onside kick with less than 20 seconds left to secure the victory.

"Hat's off to Bainbridge. They didn't give up, they kept fighting," Shaver said. "That's because coach (Ed) Pilcher's coaching them."

It was Pilcher's second return to Thomas County Stadium as an opposing coach following 16 seasons as Central's coach. Pilcher's Bearcats finished the season 3-7, enduring their fifth loss by seven points or less.

"I've never seen anything like it," Pilcher said. "I just got to give our kids a lot of credit. We could have folded up tent. We got down 21-0 in a hurry. We just weren't ready to play. I'm just proud of them for fighting back. It says a lot about the character of our kids."

Central struck quickly with three touchdowns in the opening period.

The Yellow Jackets capitalized on good field position as two of their three scoring drives started at the Bearcats' 41 and 23.

"We didn't punt very well. We lose our punter (All-State selection Keenan Adams) early in the year and that kills us. That killed field position just like it did early in the game," Pilcher said. "Those kind of things are just tough to overcome. When you play good football teams and give them short fields, it's going to be tough."

Bainbridge cut the lead to 21-13 behind a touchdown run from Steven Bench and a blocked punt that led to a score.

Dodson, however, directed a 79-yard scoring march at the end of the first half. He completed passes to Roderick Pittman, James Davis and Julius Reese. Dodson also had a 34-yard run that led to his one-yard scoring plunge.

Central (8-2, 5-1) will host a first-round playoff game next week against Dutchtown.

"We're proud of our team this season, 8-2. I hope we don't take these kinds of things for granted," Shaver said. "The non-region schedule we play and the region schedule we play, to come out 8-2 and get to host a playoff game, that's a huge accomplishment for this group."