Thompson scores 63 points to remain undefeated

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter 

ALABASTER – The Thompson Warriors emerged from homecoming week as one of only two unbeatens left in 7A Region 3 as they easily dispatched Tuscaloosa County despite a gutsy effort early on. A 63-18 win over the visiting Wildcats moved the No. 1 ranked Warriors to 5-0 (3-0) and into a first place tie with Mountain Brook.

The Wildcats came out aggressively on defense, blitzing with regularity, but Thompson made them pay hitting two huge plays over the top to junior receiver Sam Reynolds.

After taking a sack, Sawyer Pate connected with Reynolds for 42 yards on the first drive to put the Warriors in Wildcat territory. A couple of plays later Jarrett Crockett romped into the end zone from 27 yards out for the 7-0 lead.

The defense quickly returned the ball into the hands of the offense, which led to another explosive play from Reynolds who took a quick pass in the flat, made his man miss and raced past defenders as teammates continued to block up field for a 72-yard touchdown.

Tuscaloosa County finally found some breathing room on their next drive as Brax Garrison found Bobby Harless on a slant pattern darting down the middle of the Warriors’ defense for a 60-yard touchdown.

The Wildcats’ special teams coverage has suffered this season and Thompson took full advantage shortly after Tuscaloosa County’s touchdown.

Michael Pettway took the ensuing kickoff at the 19-yard line, made a couple moves then found the hole and sped off down the left sideline 81 yards to give Thompson a 21-6 lead.

The two teams had scored 20 points in a little over two minutes. Tuscaloosa County responded again in the second quarter as the Wildcats’ run game finally found its rhythm.

Damien Taylor came into the game having eclipsed the century mark in every game so far this season and, despite more resistance than usual, he would do so again and get it done in the first half.

His 40-yard burst drove the Wildcats into Thompson territory and set up Connor White’s touchdown pass to Cedric Williams to bring them within nine.

The Wildcats tried to pin Pettway with a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Warriors were prepared and got the ball to their own 48 to begin the drive.

Pate connected on passes to J.B. Mitchell, Pettway and Crockett before another 4-yard pass found Crockett who dove into the pylon to put his team on top 28-12.

Thompson’s defense went into lockdown mode and forced wayward punts after three-and-outs to give the offense a 42 and 27 yard fields for their final two touchdown drives of the half. Pate found Pettway again for a score and Crockett found the end zone for the second time of the half.

Pate finished the half 13-of-16 for 229 yards and three touchdowns.

He did throw his first interception of the year, however, in the first half and Damien Taylor made him pay with a 79-yard touchdown run for one final Tuscaloosa County score.

Taylor finished with an impressive 235 yards on 25 carries but many came with the game already well in hand.

Pate ended up getting the last laugh hitting Pettway for their second touchdown hookup of the night three minutes later—they have eight so far in 2019.

Pettway ended up with a team high six receptions for 104 yards to go along with 141 kick return yards on three attempts.

Thompson head coach Mark Freeman looked to the run game to preserve the win as four backs went for 40 or more yards including touchdowns from Brandon Franklin and Curtis Brown to finish the game.

The offense, hyped as a passing juggernaut in the offseason, has rushed for 1,007 yards in their last four games. The defense was stout again forcing five three-and-outs, 10 tackles for loss and a season-high four sacks.

Damion Ugbo and Peter Woods both had career nights on the defensive line with both collecting three TFLs and two sacks each.

The win sends Thompson into its bye week with momentum and extra time to prepare for county and area opponent, Spain Park. They’ll travel to meet the Jaguars Oct 4 at 7 p.m., before then playing Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook and Hewitt-Trussville to close out region play with a difficult stretch.