THOMASVILLE — It was a long wait for Anthony McCloud.

But, the Thomas County Central senior finally found his way into the end zone Friday night in the Yellow Jackets’ 55-0 destruction of Dutchtown at Thomas County Stadium.

“It’s crazy,” McCloud — who moved over from his defensive line position to tight end for short-yardage situations — said of his 3-yard touchdown reception that helped the Class AAAA No. 3 Jackets (7-0) shake off a sluggish start. “It felt so nice. We’ve been working on that play forever, and the last couple of games I was supposed to get that pass thrown to me, but they’ve always been scoring so fast that I never had a good chance. I felt great, man.

“Oh man, I was nervous. I was scared a little bit, because all the fans are looking at me and if I mess up, they’re all going to sit it.”

Added Central coach Ed Pilcher: “You’ve got to dangle a carrot out in front of them sometimes and give them some incentive. We told him, ‘We want you on goalline offense and we’re going to put you in there. And we’re going to have one play in there for you and at some point in the year we’re going to throw it.’ The time was right.

“He showed his athleticism, didn’t he?”

Coming off three straight wins against ranked opponents — Tift County, Monroe and Cairo — Pilcher worried about a letdown from the Jackets against Dutchtown (1-5).

Central did just that. After successfully converting a fourth-and-2 from their own 38, the Yellow Jackets were stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at Dutchtown’s 22.

That Dutchtown defensive stand served as the wake-up call Central needed.

“I want to give credit to them, they came out ready to play,” Pilcher said. “They put their defense up there and they stopped us on that fourth-down play and that kind of woke us up.

“From that point on, we made some adjustments offensively, took what they gave us and got things rolling.”

On its next possession, Central senior Debrale Smiley busted off a 71-yard scoring run on the first snap and the Jackets never looked back.

Smiley added a 33-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter for his 65th career touchdown, moving within four of Joe Burns’ career mark at Central. The 5-foot-11, 240-pounder finished the night with 165 yards on 12 carries and and now has 873 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season.

After the slow start, Central racked up 311 rushing yards in the first half, with quarterback P.J. Williams adding a 57-yard scoring run and Shawn Bryant racing in from 10 and 20 yards.

“We took advantage of what they were giving us,” Pilcher said. “We had to throw it a little bit to loosen it up a little bit and once we got them to play in a normal defense, then we could just run our offense like we wanted to.”

Recommended for you