Blue Devils upset by Bulldogs in 27-24 thriller

The Maiden-Thomasville rivalry added another page to its great high school football rivalry on Friday.

In a game that wasn't decided until the final 34 seconds, a game-tying Ian Oliver field goal was blocked, leading the Bulldogs (5-7) to an upset win over the Blue Devils, 27-24, in the opening round of the 2A state playoffs in Maiden.

Neither team looked good offensively in the opening quarter, and Maiden's field position early on inside Thomasville's 47-yard line had them in good position early.

Oliver's 32-yard field goal set up the Blue Devils go ahead score, making it 3-0 with 11:50 to go in the opening half.

Special teams helped Thomasville on its first possession of the second quarter, setting up Gabe Brockett's go-ahead score from 32 yards out.

Maiden responded with 43 seconds left in the first half when quarterback Jake McRee fired his only scoring pass of the contest, finding Ricky Taylor from 16 yards out.

The Blue Devils appeared as if they would have the advance at the break, but an extremely quick possession by Thomasville, including a Brockett two-yard TD run with 14 seconds left in the second quarter, gave the Bulldogs a 14-10 advantage at halftime.

Opening the second half strong, a 42-yard pass from McRee to tight end Dakota Painter set up Maiden's next score, when running back Jordan Bess plunged in from one yard out.

"Jordan Bess ran the ball really well for us tonight" said Maiden coach Frank Snider. "You have a team like Thomasville, and they run the ball so well."

Bess' touchdown was part of a 27-point fourth quarter combined for both squads.

Brockett, who ran for nearly 200 yards in the opening half, kept the Bulldog running game going by adding a 14-yard scoring scamper to make it 20-17 Bulldogs with 9:01 left to play.

Taylor struck again for Maiden, following a huge catch by Painter deep in Thomasville territory.

A 34-yard run by Taylor gave Maiden a 24-20 lead with just over eight minutes left to play.

However, Brockett would rip off the run with just over two minutes left to play that gave the Bulldogs a 27-24 lead. He broke two tackles on his way to going up the Thomasville sideline for a touchdown.

Maiden wasn't done just yet, converting on a 4th down and three just inside the Thomasville 40-yard line.

A catch by Painter just inside the Bulldogs' 10-yard line set up 1st and goal for the Blue Devils.

Following a run play and two passes, Oliver was set up with a field goal to tie the contest and force overtime.

"We thought we would win the football game right down to the end," Snider said.

A bad snap and blocked field goal would contribute to ending Maiden's season, giving the Bulldogs the three-point victory.

"It was a low snap" said Snider of the game-tying field goal. "We wanted to get from third down to fourth down, but too we also wanted to score a touchdown rather then kick a field goal and the game go to overtime."

Brockett's 300-plus yards sparks the 'Dogs into the next round, where Lincolnton comes calling next at Thomasville.

Maiden loses in the opening round for the first time since a 1994 opening playoff loss to Bessemer City. The Blue Devils finish the season at 8-4 overall.