Road Warriors Rip Rebels 49-7, Win 25th Straight
It was a night to remember for the Thompson warriors—and for many reasons. Mark Freeman’s squad won their sixth in a row over Vestavia Hills Friday, October 1 by the largest margin in the history of the two schools, 49-7.
Quarterback Conner Harrell passed the 5,000 yard career mark while his favorite target Ryan Peppins passed the 2,000 receiving yards. The two combined for a special night as Peppins hauled in 11 catches for a career high 232 yards and three touchdowns while Harrell had a season high 323 yards passing while accounting for four total touchdowns.
But the Warriors’ most miraculous play of the night would come on defense. More on that in a moment.
The two defenses forced three-and-outs on each team’s initial drives, but Thompson’s big night through the air would begin on the next opportunity. Harrell needed just three passes to guide the Warriors down the field 79 yards as he hit Peppins for a 38 yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
Thompson forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive lineman Peter Woods. It would be the beginning of a big night for the junior.
Vestavia forced a three-and-out but, again, Thompson returned the favor after senior Trevor Hardy landed a punt on the Rebels’ one yard line and a short punt gave the Warriors a short, 29 yard field. Seven runs later, Harrell punched it in from two yards out for his third rushing touchdown of the year.
Vestavia finally answered with a drive keyed by a 53 yard kick return to Thompson’s 37 yard line. The Rebels still needed nine plays and a fourth down conversion to slice the deficit in half, 14-7.
With 9:45 left in the first half, Thompson answered again as Harrell slung it to Peppins again from 37 yards out on the back end of a five play, 58 yard drive to silence the home crowd.
Then, easily the most incredible play of the night happened. With 6:13 remaining, Vestavia quarterback Mitchell Townes’ pass ricocheted off a referee, popped back toward the line of scrimmage and into the waiting arms of Peter Woods who turned and barreled some forty plus yards for a touchdown.
“We want to be dominant whenever we play, that’s the main thing that coach is trying to get into our heads,” said Woods. “I️ know we’ll come out fired up Sunday for film and Monday for practice.”
The jaw-dropping play was a back breaker for the Rebels who didn’t muster much offensively after that.
Harrell and Peppins connected again right off the bat in the third quarter for a 55 yard touchdown that saw the senior receiver take a slant route and gassed the defense as he angled for the end zone.
The offense then put together a season-high 13 play drive that would grind down what was left of the Rebels’ hopes. Ahmari Bolden ended the drive with a one yard plunge over the goal line with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter.
The defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs to start the second half and turned Vestavia over three more times for a season-high five total in the game. Woods had a special night for the Warriors with nine tackles, two for loss, a sack and the pick six. Jax Van Zandt also recorded six tackles.
“Defense played great, produced another touchdown, but we’ve got some areas where we have to get better,” said Freeman. “The kids have to decide how they’re going to come to practice, how they’re going to play. We haven’t changed anything we’ve been doing in ten years.”
The defense’s final stop on fourth down gave Thompson a thirty yard field for their final touchdown: an eight yard run by sophomore AJ Green.
Thompson (7-0, 4-0) will return home next week, October 8 to host Gadsden City at 7 p.m. for the first time since the Titans joined Class 7A.