The game of the week turned into the game of the year as Mountain Brook came to battle Thompson in a top five matchup for region supremacy. The Spartans came to play and emptied the playbook in Warrior Stadium, but no. 1 Thompson orchestrated a fourth quarter comeback to take their second region title in three years, 33-21.
Mountain Brook (7-1, 5-1) started on their own 17, but broke into the middle of the field on a long run by Strother Gibbs. Gibbs would lead the team down the field before Sam Higgins ran the ball in from 13 yards to put the Spartans up 7-0.
It would be the only score of the opening quarter, but the Warriors would strike early in the second. Jojo Gaiters would perform admirably again as the workhorse back and helped open up the offense slipping tackle after tackle on five carries for 52 yards including a four yard score with 9:46 to go in the half.
Thompson (8-0, 6-0) would work their way back into the red zone, but a pass from Sawyer Pate glanced off a lineman’s helmet send the football soaring into the sky, but falling into the hands of the waiting Spartans to keep the score 7-7 at halftime.
The Spartans would come out of the locker room ready to go again and stole a possession right off the bat sending the kickoff on a pooch to the open part of the field and recovered it in Thompson territory.
They grinded it down to the six yard line before Gibbs called his own number and plunged over the goal line to regain the lead at 14-7.
The Warriors’ pass game loosened up in the second half as Pate and JB Mitchell played well off each other including back-to-back inside screens in Mountain Brook territory—the last of which would send Mitchell to the endzone to tie the game again at 14 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
The teams traded possessions and took the tie into the fourth quarter where Strother Gibbs would come up big again for his team. The Spartans drove to midfield, but a pass interference on Thompson third down extended the drive. Two plays later the pocket collapsed around Gibbs, but the QB pulled off another big play eluding pressure, rolling right and cutting to the middle of the field for a 44 yard touchdown.
With 7:44 to go in the game the Warriors wasted no time as Sawyer Pate launches a beautiful ball that found Sam Reynolds in stride for a 59 yard TD to tie the game for a third and final time.
The Warrior defense was exceptional in the waning moments and forced a three-and-out to give the ball back to the offense with five minutes remaining.
Pate was 9-12 in the second half for 146 yards and two touchdowns and moved the offense down the field with a good mixture of Gaiters who wouldn’t be denied in the red zone. With the ball at the seven yard line Gaiters too the ball right and collided Spartan defenders at the two. The senior kept his legs driving long enough for his teammates to bring up the rear and pushed him across the goal line for the Warriors first lead of the game. The extra point missed the mark so Thompson handed the ball back to Mountain Brook with a six point lead.
Again, Strother Gibbs would lead his team into Thompson territory as the game clock worked inside a minute. Facing third down and six Mountain Brook went back into their bag of tricks.
Needing to get to the 33 Gibbs handed the ball off to Sam Higgins who ran to the right, but turned to throw a pass to Gibbs who broke left. The Spartans has run the play once before and Thompson cornerback J’Vone Williams saw the play the whole way.
Breaking on the ball he cut in front of Gibbs and saw nothing but turf the rest of the way as he raced 60 yards for a TD that would ice the game and seal the region title. It was Williams’ second interception in as many games.
Jojo Gaiters led the Warriors on the ground with 104 yards and two TDs on 13 carries. Sam Reynolds led the team in receiving with six catches for 92 yards and a TD. JB Mitchell had his best effort of the season with 87 yards on five receptions with a TD. Michael Pettway chopped in four catches for 48 yards.
Jax VanZandt led the defense in tackles for the first time with 6.5 including two for loss and a sack. Jeremiah Alexander also stood out with five tackles and two sacks.
The Warriors have wrapped up home field advantage for the playoffs and will finish off the regular season on the road next week at Hewitt-Trussville Friday, Oct 25.