HARLEM — It was the second week in a row that the Harlem Bulldogs found themselves against another Bulldogs’ team. Only one Bulldog could prevail.
The Thomasville Bulldogs defeated Harlem 36-29 after a late touchdown in the first round of the 3A Georgia High School Football State Playoffs on Friday, Nov. 10.
Harlem would get down early in the game after a 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cam Hill to wide receiver Cole Shaw, giving Thomasville a 7-0 lead. Despite Harlem being in scoring territory, the Harlem Bulldogs would fumble, and Thomasville took a 14-0 lead after a 15-yard rushing touchdown by running back Ant Anderson.
Running back Corey Boyd helped get Harlem on the board to end the first quarter with a 11-yard rushing touchdown, cutting the Thomasville lead to 14-7.
The Harlem defense struggled to get a stop early in the game as Thomasville extended its lead to 21-7 with an 8-yard touchdown run by Lavonte Cole.
All the momentum in the game continued to shift Thomasville’s way after Harlem muffed the punt on the next kickoff, giving Thomasville the ball at the Harlem 26-yard line.
A game changing fourth down stop occurred late in the first half with Harlem keeping Thomasville out of the end zone after great field position.
Brothers Ethan and Elijah Evangelista cut the Harlem deficit as they connected on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 4:25 to go in the first half. Wide Receiver Will Holder rushed in the two-point conversion for Harlem to make the score 21-15.
With 8:54 left in the third quarter, the Harlem Bulldogs took their first lead of the game on 9-yard pass from quarterback Ethan Evangelista to wide receiver Kee Williams. Harlem kicker Ryan Bodine converted the extra point, giving them the 22-21 lead.
Harlem looked to extend the lead late in the third quarter, but a controversial call by the officials overturned the initial ruling that Harlem converted a fourth down and were marked short, giving Thomasville the ball at its own 13-yard line.
The very next play, Anderson exploded for a 75-yard rushing touchdown to give Thomasville back the lead. Hill rushed in the two-point conversion to make the score 29-22 in favor of Thomasville.
Ethan Evangelista scored his third touchdown of the game as he ran in the 4-yard score, tying the game at 29-29 with 7:54 remaining.
Harlem drove down inside the 10-yard line and fumbled yet again with Thomasville recovering. After a long run on the first play of the drive, Thomasville had the ball on fourth down on the Harlem 1-yard line with 55 seconds remaining in the game.
Running back Leeland Chapman piled through for the game-winning touchdown to give Thomasville the win 36-29 and advance the team to the second round of the playoffs.
As for Harlem, the season will come to end with a 7-4 overall record.
Thomasville, now 6-5 on the season, will advance to the second round to play undefeated Calvary Day Friday, Nov. 17.
Christopher Rickerson, an Augusta University graduate, has covered area sports for Augusta University, The Augusta Press and Augusta Good News. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter here.
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