Thompson dominates first round, earns rematch with Hewitt-Trussville

Published 12:23 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

By ERIC STARLING | For the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Thompson Warriors started a new football season on Friday, Nov. 9, as they hosted the Florence Falcons in the first round of the AHSAA football playoffs.

On a night that saw the Class 7A Region 3 teams sweep the Region 4 teams, Thompson rolled to a 45-14 victory.

The Warriors defense kicked things off with a Jalen Bustamante interceptiton early that set the offense up with good field position on their first drive of the game.

Thompson made quick work of things with Taulia Tagovailoa surveying the field and connecting with Kyle Smoak for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 8:40 remaining in the first quarter. Evan McGuire connected on the point after attempt, and the Warriors led 7-0. Smoak, one of the county’s best and a vital and speedy receiver for the Warriors this year, left the game after the touchdown, however, and did not return the rest of the night with what appeared to be an unfortunate ankle injury.

The next drive for the Warriors covered 66 yards and culminated with Tagovailoa connecting with Shadrick Byrd for a 5-yard touchdown pass to put Thompson in front 14-0. It was part of a nice night for Byrd, who finished with 81 all-purpose yards.

On defense, the Warriors looked solid and continually kept the Falcons at bay facing long third down situations all evening. Will Conner led the defense with eight solo tackles and three assists. Eric Mizell had two sacks for the Warriors and Bustamante finished with two interceptions.

The offense struggled with dropped passes and missed connections in the second quarter. With Falcons getting on the board with a touchdown in the quarter, the Warriors were only able to come away with three points on a McGuire 18-yard field goal despite having the ball for four possessions.

“We struggled to make the plays in the first half,” stated Thompson head coach Mark Freeman.  “We have worked to clean things up and the second half was more like the first half should have been. Coach Hester has done a good job at Florence and their defense got after us early on.”

The plan for the Warriors in the second half was to move the ball quickly since they had the wind at their backs in the third quarter. The first drive of the half was capped by a 31-yard touchdown run by Tagovailoa who led the Warriors in rushing with 91 yards on nine attempts. He also finished with 255 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Thompson’s next drive started at its own 42-yard line, and Tagovailoa connected with a streaking Andrew Barbour for 56 yards and set the Warriors up with first-and-goal from the 2-yard line. On the next play, Barbour took the hand-off and barreled into the endzone for the score to put the Warriors up 31-7.

Bustamante’s second interception set the Warriors up at the Falcons’ 32-yard line. Three runs from Jojo Gaiters, and the Warriors were in the red zone.  Shafton Reese then took the pitch from Tagovailoa and reversed field to scamper 18 yards for the score. With nine minutes remaining, the Warriors were up 38-7.

Nathan Crocket scored Thompson’s final touchdown on a 2-yard run with 3:23 remaining. Crocket finished the night with 26 rushing yards on the drive.

A late score by the Falcons left the final score 45-14 Thompson.

With the win and the Hewitt Trussville win over James Clemens, Thompson will host the Huskies next week in a rematch of a game the Warriors won two weeks ago by a final score of 63-49 after trailing 28-0 early in that game.