All three of the Dora standouts would top the 100-yard mark on the ground for the night en route to the Bulldogs’ 376 total rushing yards. Thomas had 207 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns — running for 162 yards and three rushing touchdowns, while also grabbing a 45-yard pass for a touchdown. May also had a great offensive night, completing 4 of 5 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, while also running for 116 yards and two touchdowns for 178 total yards and three touchdowns. Kirk added 100 yards on 13 carries.
Kirk also made his presence known on defense, recording 8 tackles with three tackles for a loss, while Joel Parrish had 8 tackles and a tackle for a loss.
“I feel that we needed the challenge that Handley would bring into tonight’s game. It’s crucial that we faced the adversity of being behind on the scoreboard at halftime going into the playoffs, where we would need to make adjustments on offense and defense. Our kids responded very well and we played much more physical in the second half on both sides of the ball,” Dora coach Johnny Wright said. “With the plays that our offensive line, Caleb, DeMarcus and Kai made, as well as the efforts of our defense, we were able to walk away with a great win leading into next week.”
The Bulldogs scored the first points of the contest early in the opening quarter on a 40-yard run by Thomas to top a 7-play, 72 yard drive to take a 6-0 lead after the missed extra point kick.
The Tigers responded with a 21-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 6-6 after the extra point kick was blocked.
Handley recovered the ball on the ensuing kickoff and drove to the Dora 19 yard line before JaiCorian Parker intercepted the ball at the 1. A play later, Thomas was tackled in the end zone for a safety to allow Handley to take the lead, 8-6.
The Tigers added to their lead late in the quarter on a 19-yard run to go up 15-6.
Dora cut the lead to three to begin the second quarter after a 7-play, 66-yard drive, with May connecting with Thomas for a 45-yard touchdown strike to trail Handley 15-12.
The Tigers struck again on the following series with a 61-yard, 10-play drive, scoring on a 15-yard run to further their lead to 22-12.
May eluded tacklers in the final minutes of the first half and scrambled for a 23-yard touchdown to draw Dora closer, 22-18, to end the second quarter.
The second half belonged to the Bulldogs — as the Dora defense limited Handley to just 48 total yards on 22 plays, while the offense rolled up 225 yards on the Tigers.
Dora grabbed the lead after a 9-play, 67-yard drive, with Thomas scoring his second rushing touchdown on a three-yard run for a 25-22 edge to start the third quarter.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 31-22 to begin the fourth quarter after May found the end zone on an 8-yard run to top a 10-play, 70 yard drive.
After the Bulldog defense held the Tigers on the next series, Thomas scored the final points of the game on a 64-yard run to give Dora the 39-22 win.
Dora (9-1, 7-0) will host the Childersburg Tigers (6-4, 4-3) next Friday night at Horace Roberts Stadium for the first round of the AHSAA Class 4A playoffs. Childersburg lost to Handley, 48-18 in a Region 3 matchup in week three.