Thompson falls in top-20 national battle with Buford

Published 1:03 am Saturday, August 20, 2022

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By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

MILTON, Georgia – The Thompson defense held its own to open the season on Friday, Aug. 20. However, a tough loss to the nationally-ranked Buford Wolves in the 2022 season opener proved the team still has some work to do in regards to forming their identity on offense.

A close game in the third quarter became a sobering reminder that each team is different and has to find their own way. Costly mistakes and turnovers led to a 38-7 loss in the Freedom Bowl against the Wolves in a battle of two teams ranked inside the top 20 nationally to begin the season.

The Warriors’ first drive began with promise as AJ Green ripped off 22 yards on his first two carries. Unfortunately, a botched handoff and a sack ended the drive prematurely.

Buford drove 10 plays, including a pair of third down conversions, to hit pay dirt on its first drive of the game capped off by a 28-yard touchdown pass to KJ Bolden.

It was the Wolves’ only touchdown drive of the day against Thompson’s first unit despite the 38 points scored.

Both defenses forced stops on the next six possessions with Thompson forcing a fumble and an interception to get the ball back to the offense.

The Warriors finally found daylight in the second quarter as sophomore running back Michael Dujon broke into the secondary. For a moment, it looked like he was going to take it the distance, but he was dragged down at the 6-yard line.

Another run took Thompson to the 2-yard line, but Dujon was rocked on the ensuing play and fumbled with a Buford recovery.

The Wolves started with the ball to begin the second half, but the Warriors stepped up again forcing a 50-yard field goal attempt which fell well short.

Thompson’s offense looked like it was beginning to gain steam on the ensuing drive. A pass interference penalty and a couple of strong runs from quarterback Zach Sims had the Warriors near midfield, but Sims was sacked on the next play and the ball squirted loose on a play that otherwise may have been blown dead.

But, again, the defense stood tall and forced another field goal for a 10-0 deficit.

Two plays later, tragedy struck again as Sims fired a pass left, but a streaking linebacker snagged it in the red zone and jogged into the end zone for a pick six.

That ended Sims’ night and led to eighth-grader Trent Seaborn entering the game to give the offense a spark—and he did just that.

Seaborn connected with sophomore Angel Jones on passes of 26 and 15 yards to get Thompson back in the red zone. Two plays later, he found Korbyn Williams from 8 yards out to bring his team back to within 10 at 17-7.

But just when hope appeared, it faded just as quickly as Justice Haynes returned the kickoff 96 yards to push the deficit back to 17.

Two plays after that, a pick-six, this time from Seaborn’s arm, effectively ended the Warriors’ chances of a comeback.

One last drive ended with a turnover on downs and eventually the 38-7 final.

Dujon led Thompson’s offense with 77 yards rushing on seven attempts, while Anjel Jones picked up 55 yards receiving. Seaborn finished 6-12 for 69 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Thompson will have an extra day to regroup for their next matchup where they will face Lipscomb High School out of Tennessee next Saturday, August 27 at 8 p.m.