PERRY, Ga. -- Failing to score in the season's first two games in blowout losses to crosstown rivals is a lot to place on the shoulders of a Veterans program merely three years in existence.
Those shoulders, however, held up solidly Friday night, bolstered by Ben Thomas' feet.
Thomas rushed for two scores -- highlighted by an 82-yard burst -- and caught a touchdown pass, as the Warhawks soared past Harris County 34-13 at Herb St. John Stadium.
Early on, however, Thomas could not get going, failing to gain a yard or being dropped for a loss on six of his first seven carries. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore finished with no yards in the first half but rebounded to finish with 91 yards on 30 carries.
"I just kept working hard," Thomas said. "It feels so good. We played two of the toughest teams in the state (to open season). Now we're fixing to go on a winning streak."
Veterans quarterback Logan Byrd tossed two scoring passes, including one to Malik Broughton, who caught seven passes for 111 yards.
Clinging to a 17-13 lead at halftime, the Warhawks (1-2) marched the opening kickoff of the second half down the field and extended their lead on Thomas' 20-yard touchdown run with 9:26 remaining in the third quarter. On the first play of their next possession, Thomas took a handoff and raced 82 yards down the sideline for a 31-13 lead.
"I just told them at the half to maintain their intensity," Veterans head coach David Bruce said. "It's definitely a relief. Playing (Warner Robins and Northside) in the first two games showed us how you have to fight for 48 minutes."
Veterans used a hurry-up offense on its first possession to drive 64 yards for its initial points of the season. Byrd found Broughton in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass and the Warhawks took a 7-0 lead with 7:53 remaining in the first quarter.
Harris County responded with a touchdown drive a little more than a minute later, punctuated by quarterback Justin Wright's 22-yard scoring run.
Veterans regained the lead in the second quarter when Thomas took a Byrd screen pass 7 yards for a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Tigers responded when TaQuon Marshall took an end around for a 7-yard touchdown run with 5:42 remaining in the first half. Veterans' Maalik Leggette, however, blocked the extra point to preserve a 14-13 lead.
Leggette then intercepted Wright inside the Veterans' 10 and returned the ball to midfield, setting up Tim Yalcin's 45-yard field goal and a 17-13 lead, despite being outrushed by Harris County 186-26 in the half.
Yalcin added a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter, and the Tigers (0-3) gained just 42 yards of total offense in the second half.