Warriors Use Big Second Half, Pick 6 to Pull Away From Spain Park
The Thompson Warriors took their show on the road to Spain Park and got tested en route to earning their fourth region win Friday, Oct 4. The Jaguars gave their best effort, but Thompson scored four consecutive touchdowns between the third and fourth quarters to seal the game and leave no doubt, 47-23.
The county opponents both had bye weeks before the matchup and it showed as the game’s first half was particularly muddled with both teams struggling to find their rhythm on offense against well-prepared defenses.
Thompson was the only team to score in the first period as Sawyer Pate found his favorite target, Michael Pettway, from 20 yards out. Pate would have to shoulder the load in the first half as the run game sputtered the entire half.
The same was true for Spain Park, but Harrison Barker finally found the endzone taking a zone read fake and strolled in for the eight yard score. Both teams missed their initial extra points so the game stood tied at six points apiece.
The two teams traded possessions and Thompson finally found themselves driving as the minutes ticked towards the half. Pate was a steady force completing 18 of 24 passes for 155 yards and found Pettway again with 2:15 left in the quarter to give the Warriors a 13-6 advantage at the break.
Barker was impressive as well going 15 of 22 for 150 yards and rushed for 23 more, but was picked off twice on long throws by Warriors’ safety Gavin Shipman. Thompson, who had been running the ball at a prolific rate, only mustered eight rushing yards going into the second half, but that was about to change.
The Warriors had the first drive of the half and worked their way near midfield as Sawyer Pate called his own number three straight times on the zone read. Pate then found a streaking Pettway for a third and final time on a post route, who then angled toward the endzone and used his speed to take it to the hosiery.
Down 20-6, Spain Park was in familiar territory and responded. Barker promptly marched the Jags down the field finding different receivers all the way. He would find one of his favorite targets, Jacob Jenkins, from 12 yards out for the score. Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Spain Park drove into Warrior territory again, but had to settle for a Drake Tabor’s 43 yard kick to bring the Jags within four, 20-16.
Sensing the urgency of the moment, the Warriors run game came alive as Jojo Gaiters and Brandon Franklin performed admirably in the absence of Jarrett Crockett who exited the field limping before halftime. The two backs would both go for 46 yards on nine carries each in the second half to help Thompson pull away.
Seven straight runs took the Warriors inside the 10 where Pate found Tre Roberson for his fourth and final passing TD of the evening. Spain Park looked to answer again, it they would find none.
Barker led the Jags past midfield again, but Thompson’s pass rush has begun to wear on them. A rusher broke free up the middle forcing Barker to throw early and linebacker Jeremiah Alexander was waiting. Alexander cradled the easy interception and raced some 60 yards in the opposite direction for a pick six dagger the Jags would not recover from.
Pate and Franklin would add two rushing TDs afterwards to turn what was otherwise a close game in the third quarter into a route. Barker would find Jaylen Ward for the game’s final score with 3:23 remaining.
Sawyer Pate was nearly flawless again going 23 of 30 for 239 yards and four TDs while adding 40 yards rushing and another TD. Michael Pettway topped his own homecoming performance against Tuscaloosa County for his best night of the year catching eight receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
Tre Roberson and JB Mitchell caught six passes each for 55 and 34 yards, respectively.
Thompson (6-0, 4-0) will stay on the road and head to Vestavia Hills next Friday, Oct 11.