Thompson hangs on against Spain Park, remains undefeated
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
HOOVER – It wasn’t easy, but the No. 1 Thompson Warriors held off a stingy Spain Park offense on Friday, Sept. 11, to pick up a 48-35 road victory in a game that featured more than 1,000 yards of total yards combined between the two teams.
The Jags took the first lead in the game at 7-0, but Thompson answered with 20 unanswered after that, and the Jaguars never got closer than six the rest of the way.
“You have to give Spain Park credit, they never quit,” Freeman said. “We made some mistakes tonight, but just coming out and having a young quarterback, he’s getting better and better every week, and our older receivers are helping him out.”
Opening the game, Spain Park won the toss to start the game and showed confidence in the offense by electing to receive the opening kick.
The Jaguars didn’t disappoint.
After a 9-yard catch from David Moultry and a 10-yard catch from Justin Pegues, Bennett Meredith found receiver Cooper Kelley streaking up the middle of the field just past the Thompson secondary and lobbed a pass to the senior for a 59-yard touchdown pass that put the Jaguars on top 7-0 in the first 1:04 of the game.
But Thompson’s offense hadn’t taken the field yet, and that lit a fire under an already talented group of athletes.
The Warriors were able to put together 20 unanswered points.
It started with Brandon Franklin putting together some strong runs on their opening drive of 5, 6 and 30 yards, before Conner Harrell capped the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:38 left in the quarter.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, Thompson’s offense went right back to work. This time, Franklin ran hard again for runs of 15, 17 and 4 yards, before Harrell hit Zac Johnson on a post route across the middle of the field for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 13-7 lead after the PAT was no good.
Despite now missing Franklin and starting running back Jarrett Crockett, the Warriors made it 20 unanswered in the first quarter when Sam Reynolds got going. The speedy athlete put together a couple of big plays, including a 10-yard touchdown run to make it 20-7 with 1:25 left in the opening quarter.
“We lost our running backs and I was proud of the way that the other kids came through and played the situation out,” Freeman said. “Sam has been a running back before. We work him every week at that position and I’m glad we got to do that this week.”
Spain Park finally woke up again offensively on the ensuing drive. The Jags went on a 10-play drive that involved consistent play from Moultry, Jaylen Ward, Kelley and Pegues. Then, Meredith capped off the drive on third-and-goal from the 3 to bring Spain Park within six points at 20-14.
Reynolds, however, struck again quickly. After catching a short pass from Harrell, the senior made one quick move and turned on the jets to sprint 85 yards for a touchdown that put Thompson on top 27-14.
After a turnover on downs in the opponent’s territory by each team, that became the halftime score.
Thompson scored quickly in the second half to make it 34-14 behind another Reynolds touchdown.
From that point forward, Spain Park battled to within 13 points on several different occasions, but never could get any closer.
The Jags got scores from Pegues, Kerec Hill and Cooper Kelley the rest of the way, but Thompson had an answer every time with Tre Roberson and Harrell making spectacular plays for scores.
Spain Park, down by 13, had the ball to the Warriors’ 2-yard line in the final four minutes looking to make it a six-point game, but an interception from Ahmari Bolden sealed the Jags’ fate in the 48-35 loss.
Harrell finished the game 19-30 with 406 yards passing and three touchdowns with an additional two rushing touchdowns and 58 yards on the ground. Reynolds had 84 rushing yards and 111 receiving yards with three combined touchdowns, while Franklin, who missed most of the game, added 95 rushing yards.
J.B. Mitchell led all receivers with 180 yards, while Roberson added 64 with a touchdown.
Spain Park was led by Meredith with 304 yards and three touchdowns, while Kelley posted 103 receiving yards with two touchdowns.