Thompson continues torrid, unbeaten start with win against Spain Park

Published 10:43 pm Friday, September 10, 2021

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The shutout streak came to an end and they scored less than 50 points for the first time this season, but aside from that, the Thompson Warriors once again looked flawless on Friday night, Sept. 10 en route to another win by 40-plus points.

For the first time this season, Thompson gave up points, but it was only a field goal, while the offense scored 28 first-quarter points against Spain Park to run away for a 49-3 victory and improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in region play.

“Overall, we’re so blessed and I’m tickled to death we’re sitting at 4-0 and bigger 2-0 in the region,” head coach Mark Freeman said after the win. “Really and truly, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We approach each week the same way, and that’s the same thing we’ve done ever since we’ve been here.”

With the win, Thompson has now beaten its first four opponents by a combined score of 217-3 this season. 

Despite a first half in which the Warriors had 10 penalties, gave up big kickoff returns for good field position and gave up their first points of the season, they still took a 32-point lead in the first 24 minutes.

Following their offensive trend of 55 or more in the first three games, the Warriors came out and put up 28 points in the opening quarter and never looked back.

The first score came thanks to strong running from Brandon Franklin. Following a 53-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, he finished the three-play drive off with a 12-yard touchdown run to quickly make it 7-0.

After a quick three-and-out from the defense, special teams got involved when former Spain Park player Justin Pegues picked up a poor punt in traffic and went close to 50 yards to the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 8:13 to play in the quarter.

Following what seemed like a long drought without points but was actually less than four minutes of game time, the Warriors got the ball back and scored in five more plays.

This time it was thanks to quarterback Conner Harrell’s first rushing touchdown of the year. He went 33 yards with some shifty moves to make it 21-0.

Thompson’s next drive started at the Spain Park 27-yard line, and the Warriors capitalized on the good field position with a quick 23-yard run from Ahmari Bolden.

After two penalties, Harrell hit David Moultry on an 8-yard touchdown pass to put Thompson in front 28-0 at the end of the opening quarter.

The Warriors opened the second quarter with a quick score as well thanks to a 12-yard touchdown from Franklin.

With a 35-0 lead, Thompson had outscored opponents by a combined 203-0 to that point in the season.

Spain Park, however, brought an end to the scoreless streak for the Thompson defense.

The Jaguars started to get good field position with lengthy kickoff returns from Zamir Farris, which led to a field goal opportunity.

Braxton Sumpter took advantage and nailed a 40-yard kick with 5:50 to play in the half, making the halftime score 35-3.

“We were very frustrated,” Van Zandt said of the field goal given up. “We went on an all-out blitz; we didn’t want to give up those three. We were real frustrated, but we played good the rest of the game.”

Aside from the shutout streak ending, the Warriors outgained Spain Park 284-51 in the opening half.

“We just try to play the best ball we can,” Van Zandt said. “Coach Freeman tells us not to worry about the points, but we on the defensive side expect a shutout. It’s how we want to play, so we try not to think about the whole logistics of it all, we just want to play the way we play.”

And the Warriors did that in the second half.

They went on to get two more touchdowns, one from Pegues on a 30-yard run and another on a 72-yard touchdown pass from Harrell to Jaylen Ward, while the defense gave up less than 50 yards in the half.

After it was all said and done, the Warriors outgained Spain Park 468-95 in the 49-3 win.

“I thought we did a really good job of playing disciplined football, playing the dive and their quarterback, and it’s a tough week in three days to do that, so I was proud of our kids and our coaches,” Freeman said.

Harrell finished 9-of-11 for 215 yards and two touchdowns passing, while he also ran for 41 yards and a score. Franklin ran for 103 yards on eight carries and had two touchdowns, while Ward led all receivers with 106 yards and a touchdown.

Thompson’s defense posted 11 tackles for loss with Jeremiah Alexander totaling 2.5 to lead the way and Peter Woods posting two with one sack.

Spain Park was led by Sam Lee with seven carries for 46 yards.