Thompson Downs Eagles Again, Advance to State Semifinals
Mark Freeman and the Warriors are headed to the state semifinals for a fifth consecutive year after another convincing defeat of the Oak Mountain Eagles, 45-7.
The defense was stellar again holding their opponents to single digit scoring for the 10th time in their 12 games so far and forced seven punts to break the state record with 84 on the season. Fyffe held the previous record of 81.
Thompson was equally balanced on offense in the second start for quarterback Zach Sims as they mixed in runs and passes that kept Oak Mountain off balance all evening. They had six drives of seven plays or more draining the clock, but also hit on quick strikes as they lit up the scoreboard.
Running back Justin Pegues got things started for the Warriors as they moved down the field and ended the drive with a surprising 32 yard touchdown run on fourth down with 8:05 to go in the first quarter. Sims hit Jaylen Ward less than two minutes later on a beautiful 64 yard bomb to put Thompson up 14-0.
The defense snuffed the Eagles’ powerful run game in the first half holding them to just 23 yards. Quarterback Evan Smith was able to helm just one scoring drive and had to go 5-5 passing to do so. His 18 yard TD pass to Ethan Hammett with 2:10 to go in the quarter cut the deficit in half, but Thompson would answer in swift fashion.
Another long drive from the offense landed the Warriors back in the red zone where Sims would show off the touch again. Standing at the Oak Mountain 12 yard line Sims delivered a money ball to Ryan Peppins on a fade to put Thompson back up two scores.
The Warriors would make the best of their final first half drive as they got the ball inside Trevor Hardy’s range. Hardy responded with a career-high 43 yard field goal as time expired to give Thompson a 24-7 halftime lead.
To everyone’s surprise, Connor Harrell returned in the second half to lead the offense and knock off some rust. He completed 10-13 passes in spot duty for 111 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown to Jamar Jones from 35 yards out.
Zach Sims was efficient again and gave the Warriors a steady presence the last two weeks finishing 11-16 for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Jaylen Ward and Justin Pegues had great nights both going for over 100 yards of offense. Ward led the receiving corps with 153 yards on four receptions while Pegues rolled up 127 yards on 18 rushes with two receptions for 25 more yards. Ryan Peppins had a team-high 11 receptions matching a season-high netting 58 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Franklin continued his hard running style adding 54 yards on nine runs including a third quarter touchdown. AJ Green punched in Thompson’s final TD with 3:35 remaining in the fourth.
Peter Woods led the defense with four tackles while fellow defensive lineman Kaleb Thompson picked up a team-high two tackles for loss. Tony Mitchell also had a tackle for loss and broke up a game-high three passes on the night.
The win sets Thompson up for a much-awaited rematch with the Hoover Buccaneers with spot in the state championship on the line. Thompson and Hoover have met in each of the last five semifinal games. The two squads will meet at the Hoover Met Friday, November 19 at 7 p.m.