Harrell, defense lead Thompson to 26th straight win

Published 11:48 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – It’s hard to believe we’re already two months into the high school football season. It may be even harder to believe that every Thompson opponent in that span has yet to score double digits.

The Warriors’ defense held Gadsden City to just 113 yards and scored a touchdown for the fourth consecutive game Friday night, Oct. 8 to cruise to 41-7 homecoming win and an 8-0 record.

Thompson’s dominance started early, as the Warriors forced the Titans to punt after three plays and a big sack from Peter Woods on the opening drive.

The offense rolled up 49 yards on six runs to start the drive, causing the defense to creep closer to the line of scrimmage with each play. On the seventh play, quarterback Conner Harrell struck with a play action fake and hit Justin Pegues over the top for a 31-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Gadsden City (5-3, 2-3) went heavy with the run as well, converting two first downs, but the Titans failed to sustain the momentum once running back Chris Miller left with an injury.

Harrell then took matters into his own hands on the next few drives, as he scrambled up the left sideline dashing for 67 yards.

The run landed the Warriors inside the 10-yard line and Harrell hit Jaylen Ward from 7 yards out to double the lead.

A short punt gave Thompson the ball back at the Titans’ 43-yard line, and Harrell got loose again on the second play, going 36 yards for his fifth rushing touchdown of the season.

Gadsden City managed only 68 yards on 27 first-half plays, but the Titans found themselves in Thompson territory after an interception late in the second quarter.

An 8-yard pass play and a late hit penalty later, the Titans stood on the doorstep of the red zone, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Junior defensive back Tony Mitchell picked a great time for his first interception of the season as he tipped a pass across the middle, bobbled the ball, then controlled it darting up the left sideline. Mitchell showed great agility and patience as he cut back right and found the lanes while following his blockers for the score with 37 seconds left in the half.

The Warriors found the end zone twice more as Brandon Franklin produced another big touchdown for the offense halfway through the third quarter.

The senior sped around the left end and blew by the rest of the coverage on an impressive 59 yard touchdown to put Thompson up 34-0 with 4:45 to go.

Thompson’s next drive nearly ended with a field goal, but a penalty pushed back a second attempt, which just missed from 36 yards.

The Warriors scored their final touchdown on the next offensive possession when they raced 55 yards in five plays.

Harrell found Ward in the upper right corner of the end zone for their second score of the night and eighth of the season.

Harrell finished 13-of-16 for 136 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for a career-high 113 yards with another touchdown on seven carries.

Franklin also reached the century mark, going for 102 yards on six carries with a touchdown.

Pegues led the team in receiving with 46 yards on three receptions and a touchdown.

Jax Van Zandt helped the defense to 13 tackles for loss as he collected three with seven tackles overall, including a sack. Seth Hampton posted five tackles with two for loss, while Jeremiah Alexander added seven tackles.

Thompson will play their final home game of the regular season against the Oak Mountain Eagles in a match of potentially playoff bound teams. The kickoff is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.