Warriors fall to Stanhope Elmore

Thompson junior running back Dee Tolbert carries the ball around a Stanhope Elmore defender in the Warriors' 43-17 loss October 12. (Contributed/Kala Bolton)

By KALA BOLTON / For the Reporter

After the Thompson Warriors (2-5, 0-5) suffered brutal 43-17 home loss to Class 6A Region 4 opponent Stanhope Elmore (6-1, 4-1) October 12, Warriors head coach Michael Montgomery made no excuse for his teams’ defeat.

“We made way too many mistakes, starting with the kicking game,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t win on special teams in order to give ourselves an opportunity. Against a regional opponent, you’re not going to have a lot of success when you don’t execute in special teams.”

The visiting Mustangs wasted no time as they darted to a 22-0 lead in just the first quarter. Three consecutive four-play touchdown drives put the Mustangs on top early while the Thompson offense remained stumped with early mistakes.

The Warriors’ first first down came on the last drive of the quarter, and junior running back Dee Tolbert reeled in a quick pass from senior quarterback Trey Matherson, breaking numerous tackles for a 32-yard gain, igniting the crowd and setting up a 13-yard field goal by sophomore kicker David Buckalew, giving Thompson it’s lone points of the half. The Mustangs answered with a 66-yard touchdown drive, extending their lead to 29-3 with 4:49 remaining in the first half.

The Warriors gained some rhythm offensively on its next two drives, but were unable to get points on the board as Stanhope Elmore intercepted a Matherson pass at their own goal line, halting the Warriors’ comeback drive.

Thompson came out of the locker room to start the third quarter with a spark on defense as junior defensive lineman Jake Rakestraw sacked the Mustangs quarterback for a 10-yard loss, halting what looked to be a promising offensive drive for Stanhope Elmore. When a Thompson three-and-out drive gave the Mustangs the ball right where they left off, the Warrior defense came up big again with a fumble recovery at their own 2-yard line, setting up a 98-yard drive that cumulated with a 22-yard touchdown run by Tolbert, shortening the gap to 29-10 to close out the third quarter.

“We knew we had to make a stand at the beginning of the second half,” Montgomery said, “and we did.”

A 60-yard touchdown run swung the momentum back to the visitors’ sideline, giving the Mustangs a 36-10 lead with 10:20 remaining in play, but Thompson wasn’t ready to give up yet, answering with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Matherson to Tolbert with 8:24.

“We were just a little more focused,” Tolbert said of Thompson’s second-half surge.

Down 17-36, the Warriors’ onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, giving the Mustangs the ball back at midfield. A final touchdown drive by the Mustangs proved to be the nail in the coffin as the Warriors went down at home 43-17.

“We’re just inconsistent right now,” Montgomery said. “That’s just where we are. That’s just who we are. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, that’s just something we have to improve on.”