A pivotal pick-off by Cameron Harris with 33 seconds remaining positioned Thomasville’s red team to a come-from-behind, 21-14 win over the gold team in the Bulldogs’ spring football game on Saturday.
The interception, which went roughly roughly 70 yards, came on the heels of a 30-yard, game-tying touchdown catch by red team receiver Jay Bowdry.
After Harris’ pick set up a one-yard touchdown run to take a 21-14 lead, the gold team heaved a hail mary on the final play that found its way into the hands of red team cornerback Zacques Jackson.
Quarterback play was expected to be accented by inexperience, coach Leroy Ryals said.
Thomasville dished out freshman Tori Sapp and eighth grader JT Rice for the bulk of the afternoon, both of which, the coach said, struggled to maintain composure.
Ryals added that the defense presented prevalent problems for the green – by jersey and youth – quarterbacks, neither of which have a leg up on the other for the starting job yet.
“We’ve got a lot on our plate to speed them up,” Ryals said of his signal callers. “But I think we’ve got enough guys around them to fill in if you will and help them along the way.”
The gold team took a 7-0 lead going into halftime, then both teams traded a pair of three-and-outs each to start the final period before gold team fullback Gary Pottinger broke the streak with a 15-yard carry. Receiver Javier McGriff converted a fourth down on the ensuing play, but the gold team fumbled at the 5-yard line just after.
The turnover set up the red team for a 95-yard touchdown run that tied the game at seven.
The gold team wrestled back the lead when McGriff snagged a 30-yard touchdown catch in mid-air after Bowdry, who also played cornerback on Saturday, tipped the intended pass with 55 seconds remaining.
“We had worked on one-handed catches all spring practice,” McGriff said. “That was my time to show everyone what we’ve been working on.”
Bowdry answered with his 30-yard touchdown, then Harris sealed fate with the near pick-six.
Saturday’s spring game was conducted in a draft format, with Ryals dividing quarterbacks and centers, then letting assistants select rosters from there.
The second-year coach said he was pleased overall by Thomasville’s production this spring, but still has concerns as the team heads into a one-month hiatus before summer workouts.
“We were very competitive – almost too competitive,” Ryals said in reference of a few scuffles during the game. “Things kind of got heated a little bit. You’ve just got to know how to handle it.
“We saw what we liked and we saw what we needed to work on, too.”
The Bulldogs won’t resume football duties until June 2, when the team reports for conditioning. Ryals has slated roughly 21 sessions, of which players will be required to attend at least 85 percent.