Thompson pulls away from Spain Park, remains undefeated

Published 1:33 am Saturday, October 5, 2019

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

HOOVER – The Thompson Warriors took their show on the road to Spain Park and got tested en route to earning their fourth region win Friday, Oct 4.

The Jaguars gave their best effort, but Thompson scored four consecutive touchdowns between the third and fourth quarters to seal the game and leave no doubt, 47-23.

The county opponents both had bye weeks before the matchup and it showed as the game’s first half was particularly muddled with both teams struggling to find their rhythm on offense against well-prepared defenses.

Thompson was the only team to score in the first period as Sawyer Pate found his favorite target, Michael Pettway, from 20 yards out. Pate had to shoulder the load in the first half as the run game sputtered the entire half.

The same was true for Spain Park, but Harrison Barker finally found the end zone taking a zone read fake and strolling in for the 8-yard score. Both teams missed their initial extra points so the game stood tied at six points apiece.

The two teams traded possessions and Thompson finally found itself driving as the minutes ticked toward the half. Pate was a steady force completing 18-of-24 passes for 155 yards and found Pettway again with 2:15 left in the quarter to give the Warriors a 13-6 advantage at the break.

Barker was impressive as well going 15-of-22 for 150 yards and rushed for 23 more, but was picked off twice on long throws by Warriors’ safety Gavin Shipman.

Thompson, who had been running the ball at a prolific rate, only mustered eight rushing yards going into the second half, but that was about to change.

The Warriors had the first drive of the half and worked their way near midfield as Sawyer Pate called his own number three straight times on the zone read.

Pate then found a streaking Pettway for a third and final time on a post route, who then angled toward the end zone and used his speed to take it to the house.

Down 20-6, Spain Park was in familiar territory and responded. Barker promptly marched the Jags down the field finding different receivers along the way.

He found one of his favorite targets, Jacob Jenkins, from 12 yards out for the score. Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Spain Park drove into Warrior territory again, but had to settle for a Drake Tabor 43-yard kick to bring the Jags within four at 20-16.

Sensing the urgency of the moment, the Warriors run game came alive as Jojo Gaiters and Brandon Franklin performed admirably in the absence of Jarrett Crockett who exited the field limping before halftime.

The two backs both went for 46 yards on nine carries each in the second half to help Thompson pull away.

Seven straight runs eventually took the Warriors inside the 10 where Pate found Tre Roberson for his fourth and final passing touchdown of the evening.

Spain Park looked to answer again, but they were unable to find one. Barker led the Jags past midfield again, but Thompson’s pass rush had begun to wear on them.

A rusher broke free up the middle forcing Barker to throw early and linebacker Jeremiah Alexander was waiting. Alexander cradled the easy interception and raced some 60 yards in the opposite direction for a pick six dagger the Jags could not recover from.

Pate and Franklin added two rushing touchdowns after to turn what was otherwise a close game in the third quarter into a rout.

Barker found Jaylen Ward for the game’s final score with 3:23 remaining.

Sawyer Pate was nearly flawless again going 23-of-30 for 239 yards and four touchdowns, while adding 40 yards rushing and another touchdown.

Michael Pettway topped his own homecoming performance against Tuscaloosa County for his best night of the year catching eight receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

Tre Roberson and J.B. Mitchell caught six passes each for 55 and 34 yards, respectively.

Harrison Barker finished 29-of-41 for 312 yards and two touchdowns, but the three interceptions stunted an otherwise impressive performance. Ward had eight catches for 80 yards, Cooper Kelly caught five balls for 69 yards and Jacob Jenkins went for 56 yards on seven catches, while Michael Callens boasted 117 all-purpose yards to lead the team.

Thompson will stay on the road and head to Vestavia Hills next Friday, Oct 11. Spain Park will also be in for a road test at Hoover.