THOMASVILLE — Thomasville High School head football coach Zach Grage searched hard to find the positives.
After a poor first-half performance against Crisp County, the Bulldogs played better in the second half.
But it was too late.
After digging themselves into a three-touchdown deficit in the first two quarters, Crisp County rolled to a 32-14 victory Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium, spoiling Thomasville's homecoming and snapping the Bulldogs' two-game winning streak.
It was the final nonregion game of the season for Thomasville (2-4) who will play region opponents in its final four games. The Bulldogs play host to Brooks County on Oct. 11.
But Friday night wasn't the way Grage wanted to finish the nonregion slate.
"Not at all," he said. "But all the goals are still there, just trying to get better every week. We're at full speed, so there's no excuses. We just have to go back and get ready for a Brooks County team that is coming in hot. We just have to perform better on offense to give us a chance.”
Thomasville coaches were looking to keep building on positive momentum after combining to outscore Everglades (Fla.) and Cook by a combined 80-31 the past two games. But Crisp County made sure Thomasville's winning streak wouldn't continue.
The Cougars had their way on offense, using an interception returned 12 yards to the Thomasville 13 to set up their first score, an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback AJ Lofton to Chris Paul, Jr. to make it 7-0 at the 5:34 mark of the first quarter.
Crisp added two more touchdowns and a 2-point conversion pass to take a 22-0 lead into halftime.
"I'm really tired of saying the same thing over and over about the kids never quitting," Grage said. "It's true, but you can't keep hanging your hat on the moral victories of the kids not quitting. We have to execute. This is a game that I have written on my sheet, 'Missed Opportunities,' that is exactly what it was.
"When you go back and you rely on high school kids, you have to go back as a staff and try to put them in the best situation possible. It always goes back to ... losses are on us as the coaching staff, so we have to go back and figure out how we can complete those balls, how we make that one extra tackle, how we can convert that third and long and try to get off the field. I was proud of our defense. They were put in some tough situations in that first half. The defense did a great job stepping up. I know we gave up 22, but it was not all theirs.”
Thomasville managed just five first downs in the first two quarters and their best chance to score, after they converted fourth-and-1 to move inside the 10-yard line, ended when they lost a fumble inside the red zone.
However, they seemed to regain some momentum after taking advantage of a Crisp County turnover to start the second half. Quarterback Ronnie Baker hit Ricardo Johnson on a 26-yard touchdown pass over the middle for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 22-7 after Hurston Waldrep's extra point attempt.
But Crisp County answered a few minutes later when Lofton took a direct snap and rambled 26 yards for a score to make it 29-7.
Thomasville scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass when Baker hit Kelvin Cochran with 2:32 left in the game.