Bulldogs pound Central


Central Davidson’s Chris Pompey (front) forces a fumble by Thomasville’s Gabe Brockett near the goal line that was recovered for a touchdown by Thomasville’s Marvin Johnson in the second quarter of their game Monday night. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)


THOMASVILLE | Thomasville was off to its worst start in more than 70 years and the whispers were that one of the state’s elite high school football programs was in unprecedented period of decline.

Not so fast. In fact, it seemed just like old times on a misty Monday night at Cushwa Stadium.

Senior tailback Gabe Brockett carried the ball 37 times for 350 yards and three touchdowns as Thomasville pounded Central Davidson 42-21 to open Central Carolina Conference play.

Forget the 0-6 start in a brutal nonconference schedule. The Bulldogs, who also got a pair of touchdowns by quarterback Ike Marsh, are 1-0 in the CCC.

“It feels great to get this first win,” Brockett said. “We’ve got to get another win next week, I mean Friday night coming up. And then the next week after that.”

Given the way the Bulldogs played Monday, that could well happen.

“Well, it’s nice to finally get a win to start the conference,” said Thomasville offensive coordinator Dickie Cline. “Our staff is really proud of the kids for hanging in there, for finally getting rewarded.”

Thomasville dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, holding Central’s potent double wing attack to 208 yards, including just 65 on the ground.

“There’s an old saying and it’s that we got butt kicking tonight,” said Central coach Brad Morton, whose team fell to 3-4. “On offense, defense, special teams. Give credit to Thomasville. They hadn’t won a game and they were hungry.”

Brockett, in just his first year as a running back, had touchdowns of 89 and 37 yards called back or he would have shattered the school single-game rushing record.

“He had that many?” said right guard Taquan Williams. “Good. We’ve got to keep it up. We’ve got to keep blocking and he’s got to keep running.”

Central used some offensive trickery and special teams play to go into the locker room tied 21-21.

But it was all Thomasville in the second half.

Thomasville received the second half kickoff and drove 72 yards in eight plays — all but one on Brockett runs. Williams cleared the way with a jarring pancake block as Brockett got the touchdown on a 14-yard run as the Bulldogs went up 28-21.

On the Spartans’ second play from scrimmage following the kickoff, massive 5-9, 370-pound nose tackle Adonis Leonard recovered a Desmond Mabe fumble at the Central 22.

Brockett ran over left tackle behind another pancake block — this time from fullback Julian Burgess — on the next play to make it 35-21.

Marsh added the clincher on a 6-yard run to cap a 51-yard drive with 9:19 left after Dezmond Wilson partially blocked a Levi Bruff punt.

Looking like the Thomasville teams of years gone by, the Bulldogs drove 57 yards in eight plays on their first possession, with Brockett scoring on an 8-yard run.

It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to be in position to strike again after Gabe Pesqueria intercepted a Nathan Dennis pass at the Central 41. Pesqueria wrestled the ball away from tight end Nate White on the way to the ground.

Six plays later, Marsh scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 14-0 with left in the first quarter.

Central got right back in the game when Saig Skeen blocked a Rob Styers punt in the end zone and recovered it for a touchdown, cutting Thomasville’s lead to 14-7 with 9:21 remaining in the first half.

The Spartans faced fourth-and-inches just outside the Thomasville when they were flagged for a false start. Following a timeout, Dennis fired a 36-yard touchdown strike to Chris Pompey as the Spartans pulled even at 14-14 with 1:16 left in the first half.

Somehow, the ground-pounding Bulldogs found a way to strike back quickly.

Wilson returned Andrew Curry’s squib kick 29 yards to the Central 40. On second-and-10 from the Central 24, Brockett burst through the right side and was heading for the end zone. The ball got knocked loose and teammate Marvin Johnson fell on it past the goal line as Thomasville went ahead 21-14 with 26.6 seconds left in the first half.

Somehow, the fireworks in this improbable first half still weren’t over.

Josh Moore returned the ensuing kickoff 20 yards to the Central 44, leaving the Spartans with 20 seconds to work with. It was enough.

Skeen took a pitchout to the right, planted his feet and stunned everyone by rifling a 56-yard touchdown bomb to Pompey as Central tied it up again at 21-21 with 8.3 seconds left in the half.

Thomasville visits East Davidson on Friday and Central hosts Salisbury.

Notes: Pompey caught six passes for 143 yards. Skeen was held to 15 yards on 14 carries, giving him 992 for the season. ... Andrew Curry kicked three PATs for the Spartans. ... Thayer Bates recovered a fumble. ... Styers was 6-for-6 on PATs.



Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or mike.duprez@the-dispatch.com.