THOMASVILLE — In front of a national television audience, a packed Veterans Memorial Stadium and against the state’s top quarterback prospect, the Thomasville Bulldogs put on a show-stopping performance.

Behind a withering pass rush and a relentless rushing attack, the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs hammered the top-ranked Rabun County Wildcats and standout quarterback Gunner Stockton 49-24 Friday in the Class AA state playoffs.

The win means the Bulldogs (12-1) will host Callaway in the state semifinals December 3, with the winner advancing to the Class AA state championship.

But on this Friday, with many eyes on Stockton, Thomasville stole the show.

It’s a statement that we get to host the semifinals,” Bulldogs coach Zach Grage said.

The defense, which also sacked Stockton on four straight plays in the second half, held him to 14 of 31 passing for 160 yards.

It wasn’t a bunch of blitzes,” Grage said. “It was a bunch of D line playing their rear ends off. It was a bunch of D backs playing their rear ends off and fighting through adversity.”

Thomasville’s offense rolled up 307 yards rushing, and Bulldogs quarterback Shannen White threw for 108 yards and two scores. 

Stockton’s 5-yard rushing score with 7:22 to go in the second quarter tied the game at 14-14. White then snapped that deadlock with his own rushing TD.

On the next play from scrimmage, White pulled the ball down, and took off around the right side, racing 62 yards for a go-ahead score. 

“Hats off to Coach Grage and his staff. They do it the right way,” Rabun County head coach Jaybo Shaw said. “They’re hard to stop. They run inside zone a lot of different ways. They did a nice job tonight and they were the better football team.”

Cole Shaw’s sliding grab of an 11-yard White pass with 3:02 remaining in the half gave the Bulldogs a 28-14 lead.

Gus Hood drilled  50-yard field goal in the third quarter to bring the Wildcats within 28-17. But the Bulldogs seized control and put the game away. 

Malik Harper broke free for a 48-yard TD run two plays later, stretching the lead to 35-17, 

White added a 1-yard run late in the third quarter and hit D.J. Thurman on a 5-yard touchdown pass for a 49-17 lead midway though the fourth quarter. 

Stockton’s final pass as a high school football player was a 20-yard scoring strike to the back right corner of the end zone to Jaden Gibson.

“It was fitting his last throw as a Rabun County Wildcat was a touchdown,” Shaw said. “It was a great throw and a great catch and I think it was fitting for his last throw.”

Rabun County committed 18 penalties, many of them false start calls. Thomasville was whistled for 17 infractions.

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