The Thompson defense is rounding into form and it’s only the second week of the season. The Warriors forced three turnovers on fourth down, notched a safety and collected 13 tackles for loss in their first road game of the season as they took the win over the Sparkman Senators 39-7.
After a 23-yard field goal by Trevor Hardy, the Warrior defense forced the Senators to punt on their next possession, but the snap was bobbled and Thompson mobbed the kicker immediately in the end zone to secure the safety and a rare 5-0 lead.
Receiver Ryan Peppins took advantage of the field position on kickoff and returned the ball 36 yards to Sparkman’s 39 yard line to give Thompson a short field. Connor Harrell found JB Mitchell on a big strike into the red zone a couple of plays later and Peppins finished the drive off gassing his man as he flashed behind the formation and dashed for the corner of the end zone as Harrell hit him on a well-timed throw.
After another stop from the defense and a poor punt Harrell spotted Mitchell again on a crossing route he would take all the way to the house from 44 yards out. It was one of several big plays for the senior on a career night. In the first quarter he wrestled away a sure interception a la Alabama-LSU circa 2011 to keep a drive alive for the Warriors.
Mark Freeman couldn’t say enough about his leading receiver who piled up a career-high 140 yards on eight receptions—135 of which came in the first half alone.
“He’s a great athlete, JB has a great motor and he plays hard. Early in the game he makes a play that could’ve gone either way and just takes the ball from the defensive back. That was a big play for us and JB is just a leader for us. He’s going to have a great year, he works hard and I’m just happy for him.”
The defense allowed less than 100 yards in the first half and only 202 for the game. After their fourth consecutive stop to start the contest, running back Jarrett Crockett got loose on a couple of receptions and scampered into the endzone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the year. Crockett would finish with 51 yards rushing and another 47 receiving.
Down 26-0 Senator head coach LaRon White switched his quarterback and gave his team a spark. Junior Luke Schomberg proved a good substitute for Sparkman and guided them down the field in the final minutes of the first half, tossing a TD pass with 12 seconds remaining.
The Warrior defense came up big time and again in the second half forcing two turnovers on fourth down in the third quarter. The first of which gave Thompson exceptional field position and led to RB Brandon Franklin’s first TD of the year from 20 yards out. Franklin led the team in rushing with 83 bruising yards on ten carries with the gross majority coming after contact.
Cade Golden came in to QB the Warriors late in the game and sent a nice ball to senior receiver Sam Reynolds for his first score and the game’s final touchdown.
Senior cornerback Gavin Shipman and sophomore defensive lineman Peter Woods led Thompson on defense as Woods bulldozed his way to 2.5 tackles for loss including 1.5 sacks giving 2.5 on the year.
“He’s a great football player, he’s got great technique, great hands, understands how to play with leverage and he’s instinctive. I’m just blessed and grateful he’s a 10th grader,” said Mark Freeman, smiling.
Shipman blocked several passes, added three tackles with one for loss and followed that up by committing to Harvard University right after the game.
“We got on to our secondary for some plays from last week and Gavin responded today very well,” said Freeman. “I thought Gavin had good intensity and he played how he was supposed to play this week.”
Jeremiah Alexander added 3.5 tackles, 1.5 for loss with half a sack while Jax Van Zander led the team with 4.5 tackles.
Connor Harrell was steady again at QB for Thomspson going 15-24 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Tre Roberson and Sam Reynolds finished with 36 and 25 yards, respectively.
Thompson will return home to begin region play next Friday, Sept 4 as they welcome Tuscaloosa County. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.