Thompson remains undefeated with 51-14 win over Oak Mountain

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Coming off an upset of the No. 1 Hoover Buccaneers, there was no letdown for the new No. 1 Thompson Warriors, who hit the road for the first time this season on Friday, Sept. 13, for a region matchup with Oak Mountain and walked away with a 51-14 victory to improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in region play.

The sign of what was to come came on the opening kickoff as Sam Reynolds fielded the opening kick and took it 90 yards to the house to give Thompson a 7-0 lead 16 seconds into the game.

“The kickoff return is something we worked on this week,” Thompson head coach Mark Freeman said after the game. “Coach (John) Jones and coach Jake Ganus run our special teams and they did a great job getting them prepared.”

Oak Mountain had a good response on its opening drive thanks to a nine-play drive that started at the Eagles’ own 20-yard line and saw runs of 22 yards from sophomore quarterback Evan Smith and 23 yards from running back Judah Tait, before Ethan Hammett was able to punch in a 9-yard touchdown reception to even the game at 7-7 with 8:34 to play in the opening quarter.

From that point forward, however, the Eagles had no answer and Thompson took advantage.

The Warriors put up one more touchdown in the first quarter thanks to a 10-play drive that was capped off by a 9-yard touchdown run from Jarrett Crocket to put them up 14-7.

Then, with Oak Mountain unable to answer or find any rhythm, Thompson went to work scoring 27 points in the second quarter to put together a total of 34 unanswered points and take a 41-7 lead into the half.

“That was huge,” Freeman said of the effort in the second quarter. “I’ve been here before up 31-7 and left here a loser. That’s the thing about them. You can’t turn your back on them so we knew we needed to play football and get a lead.”

Thompson’s first half touchdowns following Crockett’s 9-yard run came on a 24-yard run from Crockett, a 14-yard run from Brandon Franklin, a scoop and score from Nate Riddle off an Oak Mountain fumble and a 56-yard pass from Sawyer Pate to Reynolds.

“Any time you play Oak Mountain, you have to be ready,” Freeman said. “I told Cris (Bell) I don’t even really like playing them because you have to change everything to prepare for their scheme, but credit to our guys for getting ready and playing well. I’m proud of them tonight.”

The Warriors didn’t waste any time in the second half either, scoring on their first drive in just three plays thanks to a 12-yard touchdown pass from Pate to Reynolds, marking Reynolds’ third of the game.

Oak Mountain added one more score shortly after when Jonathan Bennett was able to find a hole up the middle of the field before rumbling 56 yards for the touchdown to make it 48-14 with 4:40 to play.

Thompson went on to run heavily and added a 28-yard field goal from Evan McGuire, but never did have to punt until its final drive of the game leading to the 51-14 victory.

“I don’t think we had any lag from the win last week,” Freeman said. “I didn’t expect us to have a letdown and we didn’t. We had a good week of practice. Each week is a new value and our guys really do believe in that.”

Pate finished the game 10-of-11 for 179 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and continued to be one of the state’s most efficient quarterbacks with no interceptions to this point on the season.

Jojo Gaiters led the ground game with 148 yards on 20 carries for an average of 7.4 yards per carry, while Crockett added 121 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries for an average of 11 yards per carry.

Reynolds posted three receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns along with the 90-yard kickoff return, while Mike Pettway had 75 yards receiving on three receptions as well.

Tony Mitchell led the Warriors defensively with five tackles, including three tackles for loss.

Oak Mountain was led by Bennett with 130 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries, while Smith finished the game 7-of-11 for 48 yards and a touchdown through the air, while adding 21 rushing yards.

Thompson will now host 0-4 Tuscaloosa County on Friday, Sept. 20, having scored 40 or more points in each of its first four games averaging 45.3 points per game.

Oak Mountain (1-2, 0-2) will have another tough test next week with a road trip to 3-1 Hoover.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.