CHINA GROVE — In its first game against North Davidson last week, Thomasville football showed glimpses of an effective passing game.
On Friday at South Rowan, the Bulldogs put it together. Senior signal-caller Landon Johnson threw for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 36-24 victory over the Raiders. Caught in a back-and-forth affair throughout, Thomasville scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3 seconds left in the third quarter and added an insurance score late to put the contest out of reach.
Complimentary of a standout effort by South Rowan quarterback Nathan Chrismon, Bulldogs coach Kevin Gillespie acknowledged after the game that his offense was under pressure to perform thanks to the production by the junior.
“My hat’s off to South Rowan,” Gillespie said. “That quarterback was amazing tonight — he made plays. Our guys made plays when we had to make them. We battled through a lot, made a lot of mistakes. They capitalized on some of them. It was a good football game.
“We came out on top, we’ve got a long way to go, and that’s the good news.”
Heading into the half leading by a point, Thomasville temporarily lost its 22-21 advantage on Alex Fike’s 30-yard field goal with less than a minute to play in the third. Lymeake Washington followed that with a 74-yard touchdown on the next play from scrimmage, receiving a swing pass in the flat, cutting upfield and taking it the distance. The Bulldogs tacked on the 2-point conversion, making the score 30-24.
The visitors were able to eat away at the clock in the second half and battle the Raiders to a draw until Jabrii Carolina’s 26-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds remaining put the final touches on Thomasville’s win. Carolina finished with 13 carries for 97 yards and the score.
Before both defenses were able to settle into Friday’s contest, it was the passing games that brought the two squads up and down the field in a track meet for two quarters. The Bulldogs (1-1) accounted for 22 first downs and 451 yards of total offense Friday, with Johnson adding a pair of rushing scores on top of his exceptional day through the air.
His touchdowns and two trips to paydirt for the hosts set the stage for a frenetic sequence prior to halftime. In the final minute of the first half, South Rowan and Thomasville exchanged touchdowns just before intermission. Chrismon found J.D. James in one end zone before Johnson quickly moved his group down the field and eventually found Washington in the other. Washington tallied nine catches for 190 yards receiving with two scores.
The Bulldogs needed that type of output from their junior wideout as they had to match the offensive explosion spearheaded by Chrismon. While they struggled to pin down the South Rowan offense on one side of the ball, Johnson, Washington and company put enough points on the board to keep their opponent at bay until the defense could solve the riddle.
“We had him hemmed in, and when he started scrambling around, our coverage lapsed a little bit,” Gillespie said. “When he’s got that long to scramble around and he can throw it 60 yards, it’s just one of those things, you tell the guys to keep playing.”
Thomasville will travel to Ledford in a key Central Carolina 2-A tilt on Friday.
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.