Big Plays on Offense and Defense Give Warriors Road Win, Remain Undefeated
A handful of huge plays made the difference Friday, Oct 16 as the Warriors went on the road and handed a playoff-bound Oak Mountain Eagles team their second loss of the season, 49-21. Thompson scored 42 points in the second half thanks to 65 and 70 yard touchdowns and two fumbles that were returned for scores and sealed Thompson’s ninth straight victory to open the season and ensure an undefeated regular season road record.
Oak Mountain (6-2) won the toss and opted to give the Warriors the ball to start. It would take exactly 13 seconds to make the Eagles regret that decision as Conner Harrell flicked it to Sam Reynolds on a screen pass on the first play from scrimmage. Sam followed his blockers then exploded up the middle of the field and left the defense in the dust for a 65 yard TD to begin the game.
The defense began another game with a three and out, stuffing the Eagles’ run game and forcing a punt. Harrell and Jarrett Crockett took the reins from there as Thompson marched down the field again. The senior running back ran for 58 yards on just six carries in the first half alone in his return to action. Harrell would hit Ryan Peppins on a pop pass crossing from right to left for a five yard TD he’d finish with a nice stiff arm.
The Eagles found their rhythm toward the end of the first quarter and put together a long drive of various option run plays to cut Thompson’s lead in half, 14-7 on Cade George’s eight yard run.
The Warriors would respond two plays and 24 seconds later as JB Mitchell became the target of another screen to the edge. The senior paused for a moment behind his linemen then darted up the sideline 70 yards for Thompson’s third score of the opening period.
Oak Mountain, true to form, produced another long drive that took six minutes off the clock. Judah Tait plunged into the end zone from three yards out again cutting the deficit to seven.
It was Thompson’s turn to produce a long drive as Harrell peppered in passes to Mitchell, Peppins and a 27 yarder to Tre Roberson to get the Warriors back in the red zone. Forced into a third and goal situation from the 11 yard line, Harrell—who had eluded pressure for a first down earlier in the half—felt the heat, took off and made his way to the right corner of the end zone for his fifth rushing TD of the year. The junior QB would finish the half 9-10 for 195 yards, three TDs plus his score on the ground.
Next, the defense got back in the action to put the game away. The Eagles had ball security issues the entire first half and the ball came loose again on their next drive—but it wouldn’t bounce their way this time. Sophomore defensive back Tony Mitchell scooped the ball at the 33 and found the end zone for the second game in a row. His pick six was another game changer last week against Gadsden City.
Oak Mountain appeared to briefly right the ship and, like their previous two TD drives, moved the ball down the field efficiently including a big run by Judah Tait up the middle. However, the Eagles coughed the ball up again and this time senior defensive end Greg Green caught the ball in mid-air and used his big stride to take it back 80 yards for a back-breaking 42-14 lead with 54 seconds until halftime.
The defense has now given up 21 points while scoring 21 points in the last two games and giving up a region best 14.8 points per game.
Both teams added touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors were never in danger as they slowed the Eagles’ rushing attack to a crawl having to earn every inch.
Conner Harrell finished his night 11-14 for 239 yards, 15 rushing yards and five total TDs. JB Mitchell led all receivers with 85 yards on three receptions with a TD. Ryan Peppins added 59 yards on four grabs and two TDs. Jarrett Crockett led Thompson with 72 yards rushing on nine carries.
Jax Van Zandt and Triston Woody led the team with six and 5.5 tackles, respectively while Tony Mitchell pitched in three and a tackle for loss.
The win sets up a winner-take-all scenario with Hoover next week for the Region 3 championship at Warrior Stadium. Thompson and Hoover have won the region each of the last four years with the Warriors going for their third region title in four years.