Dobson just may have found its new warhorse in TJ Thomas.
Just when it looked like Dobson would continue its losing ways from the past few years, Thomas shrugged off the Mustangs’ sluggish start and busted out of the gates for 366 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries to power Dobson to a 42-20 win over visiting Westwood in a Division I game Friday night.
“TJ Thomas ran with an angry attitude,” Dobson coach Alex Jacobson said. “He just ran hard like I know he can. He was like, ‘Hey, one guy is not bringing me down.’”
Thomas and the Mustangs’ second-half turnaround could be pinpointed to one play. With the score knotted at 13 in the third quarter, Dobson decided to run a fake punt and Thomas ran it in for a 36-yard touchdown. The Warriors never recovered.
“We needed something to change the momentum and out of about the five times that we practiced it, they got it right four,” Jacobson said. “That fake punt kind of turned the tide a little bit.”
That fake punt followed Thomas fumbling and turning the ball over in the red zone. Following the fumble, Thomas ran for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns.
“He came off the field really, really angry and I said, ‘Hey, look, take a deep breath, I’m coming right back same play.’” Jacobson said.
Thomas was quick to give all the credit to the offensive line after the game.
“It was all the line, I promise you,” Thomas said. “It was nothing but the line. They did it and I just went wherever they left it.”
Thomas, a senior, also used Dobson’s woeful seasons from the past couple of years as motivation to get off to a strong start.
“We won, what, four games in the past two years combined?” Thomas said. “Our seniors, we just don’t want that to happen again. Eighth grade, ninth grade we won all the time. We’re not used to losing like this.”
For the Warriors, they couldn’t sustain the success they found in the running game in the first half. After rushing for 108 yards in the first two quarters, Westwood managed only 57 yards in the final 24 minutes.
Success in the air also came inconsistently. Quarterback Seb Grasser completed 15-of-34 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. But Grasser couldn’t get into a rhythm once the Warriors needed to go to the air to try to get back into the game.