TCC's Ernest Harris (26) and Jared Eaton (46) bring down Lee County quarterback Stephen Collier (5) Friday night at Thomas County Stadium. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
THOMASVILLE — The most interesting thing about Thomas County’s Stadium is a large McDonald’s lit up across the street.
While the golden arches are known for being king of the Big Mac, Thomas County Central’s golden helmets bear a striking resemble to the hamburger king across the street. After Friday night, the Jackets could declare themselves king of the option.
Thomas County Central’s powerful ground game rolled up 361 yards rushing as the Jackets executed the option to near perfection, running past Lee County 45-14 Friday night at Thomas County Stadium.
It’s the first loss of the season for the Trojans (6-1, 1-1 Region 1-AAAAA), who lost six turnovers, including four fumbles and two interceptions. Five miscues led to Jackets scores, including a pick-six early in the game by Malcolm McClenton that dug Lee into an early 10-0 deficit.
“That’s way too good of a football team to be minus anything in turnover ratio … much less minus six,” Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio said.
The Trojans were never able to recover from their opening miscues.
“You can’t have six turnovers,” Fabrizio said. “They (TCC) didn’t turn the ball over any. This is what happens.”
After Lee County picked up a first down two plays into the contest, the Trojans coughed up the ball, leading to a Gavin Wilson 47-yard field goal with 9:39 left.
Then on the Trojans’ ensueing possession, McClenton stepped in front of Collier’s pass, intercepted it and returned it 18 yards for a 10-0 lead with 8:57 left in the opening quarter before many fans even settled into their seats.
Lee responded, using an 11-yard run from Willie Kelly to trim the deficit to 10-7. However, TCC used a 52-yard dash from quarterback Adam Choice to make it 17-7.
Collier’s 4-yard run early in the second quarter made it 17-14 before TCC scored two touchdowns to close the first half. Shaquille Coleman added a 60-yard scamper, then off another Lee fumble, Choice added a 5-yard burst to make it 31-14 at the half.
Fabrizio said he thought his Trojans had overcome the early jitters when they closed to within three.But Thomas County Central quickly erased those thoughts.
Linebacker Dextric Green said it’s important for Lee County to put Friday night’s loss quickly behind them.
“There’s still a lot of football to play,” he said. “We’ve got to come back on Monday, work harder and not let this loss get us down.”
TCC (7-1, 3-0) scored the clincher on a 4-yard run from Deondre Cooksey with 11:21 left in the game, then Cooksey added a 57-yard scamper with 7:50 left to turn the game into a rout.