The Thompson Warriors emerged from Homecoming Week as one of only two unbeatens left in 7A Region 3 as they easily dispatched Tuscaloosa County despite a gutsy effort from the Wildcats early on. The 63-18 win moves the no. 1 ranked Warriors to 5-0 (3-0) and into a first place tie with Mountain Brook.
The Wildcats came out aggressively on defense, blitzing with regularity, but Thompson would make them pay hitting two huge plays over the top to junior receiver Sam Reynolds. After taking a sack, Sawyer Pate connected with Reynolds for 42 yards on the first drive to put the Warriors in Wildcat territory. A couple of plays later Jarrett Crockett romped into the end zone from 27 yards out for the 7-0 lead.
The defense quickly returned the ball only to see it return like a boomerang as Sam Reynolds took a quick pass in the flat, made his man miss and raced past defenders as teammates continued to block upfield for a 72 yard touchdown.
Tuscaloosa County finally found some breathing room on their next drive and Brax Garrison found Bobby Harless on a slant pattern darting down the middle of the Warrior defense for a 60 yard TD.
The Wildcats’ special teams coverage has suffered this season and Thompson took full advantage. Michael Pettway took the ensuing kickoff at the 19 yard line, made a couple moves then found the hole and sped off down the left sideline 81 yards to give Thompson a 21-6 lead. The two teams had scored 20 points in a little over two minutes.
Tuscaloosa County would respond in the second quarter as their run game finally found its rhythm. Damien Taylor came into the game having eclipsed the century mark in every game so far this season and, despite more resistance than usual, he would do so again and get it done in the first half. His 40 yard burst drove the Wildcats into Thompson territory and set up Connor White’s TD pass to Cedric Williams to bring them within nine.
The Wildcats tried to pin Pettway with a pooch kick, but the Warriors were prepared and got him to their own 48 to begin the drive. Pate connected on passes to JB Mitchell, Pettway and Crockett before another four yard pass found Crockett who dove into the pylon for the 28-12 lead.
Thompson’s defense went into lockdown mode and forced wayward punts after three-and-outs to give the offense a 42 and 27 yard fields for their final two TD dives of the half. Pate found Pettway again for a score and Crockett found the end zone for the second time of the half. Pate finished the half 13-16 for 229 yards and three TDs.
Damian Taylor would find the end zone for the final time on a 79 yard TD run to capitalize on Sawyer Pate’s first interception of the year. Taylor finished with an impressive 235 yards on 25 carries but many came with the game already well in hand.
Pate would have the last laugh hitting Pettway for their second TD hookup of the night three minutes later—they have eight so far in 2019. Pettway would end up with a team high six receptions for 104 yards to go along with 141 kick return yards on three attempts.
Mark Freeman would look to the run game to preserve the win as four backs went for 40 or more yards including touchdowns from Brandon Franklin and Curtis Brown to finish the game. The offense, hyped as a passing juggernaut in the offseason, has rushed for 1,007 yards in their last four games.
The defense was stout again forcing five three-and-outs, 10 tackles for loss and a season-high four sacks. Damion Ugbo and Peter Woods both had career nights on the defensive line with both collecting three TFLs and two sacks each.
The win sends Thompson into their bye week with momentum and extra time to prepare for county and area opponent, Spain Park. They’ll travel to meet the Jaguars Oct 4 at 7 p.m.