Warriors Advance to State Championship, Hand Hoover Historic Loss
Mark Freeman and the Warriors are in rare air. Looking to send the 2021 class out undefeated at home, they dismantled the Hoover Buccaneers to advance to the state championship for the third straight year with a decisive 52-14 win—their worst loss in 52 years.
The offense set the tone from the outset blazing down the field in less than 90 seconds. It would be another dominant showing in the trenches for Thompson and the offensive line opened holes for Jarrett Crockett all night. The senior running back would score the first of three touchdowns with 10:47 to go in the first quarter scampering in from 14 yards.
Shawn Defoor’s bunch saved their best for their final home game allowing only two first downs and one third down conversion before halftime. While they held the Bucs scoreless for the first 21 minutes, the offense went to work.
A partially blocked punt gave the Warriors the ball at the Hoover 25 yard line as they went to the ground and pound game. Taking another couple minutes and change off the clock and working their way to the three, JB Mitchell took a pop pass around the left end, spun around a defender and crashed into the endzone for a 14-0 lead.
Crockett would score his other two TDs in the first half on four and ten yard runs but the latter was a thing of beauty! Running left with no room on the line of scrimmage, the shifty ball carrier cut back across the field dodging a couple of tackles. Hoover covered back to the other sideline, but Jarrett reversed course again leaving the Bucs defense behind, shed another tackle and cut back left for the improbable score. He would go for 121 yards on 17 first half carries, but his night was far from over.
Up 28-0 with plenty of time left in the second quarter, the defense was aided by Trevor Hardy’s first career interception which he returned 28 yards into Hoover territory. The Bucs defense stood tall twice to give their offense a chance and were finally rewarded when Jaylen Taylor broke free for a 50 yard TD on a blown play.
In a desperation move, Hoover head coach Josh Nibblett chose to immediately go for a trick onsides kick, but Tre Roberson wasn’t fooled and recovered the ball near midfield to silence the threat. Roberson was clutch on special teams adding several double digit punt returns and 22 yards receiving.
Thompson was able to work the rest of the time off the clock on the ensuing drive ending in a 27 yard field goal from Hardy for a 31-7 lead at the break.
Hoover was late coming back from halftime and received a delay of game penalty, but responded with a 2:30 drive ending with another big TD this time from RB Brian Porter from 43 yards out. The Bucs closed the deficit to 31-14, but that was the last time the Warrior defense surrendered another point.
Thompson quickly put an end to any hopes of a comeback as the run game returned and churned up another five minutes off the clock. 4 different rushers came out of the backfield averaging six yards a carry as they dominated time of possession holding the ball with no turnovers for nearly 28 of the 48 minutes of gametime.
Crockett would add another 105 yards to his total for a career high 226 and crossed 1,000 yards rushing on the season as well as 2,000 total yards for his career.
Ryan Peppins also crossed over 1,000 receiving yards for the season with his fifth 100 yard game gaining 104 yards on six receptions. He also nabbed his Class 7A-leading 17th total TD on a 36 yard pass from Harrell early in the fourth quarter. Conner executed a perfect run-pass option as he pulled the handoff, rolled to his left freezing the Hoover linebackers allowing Peppins to sneak behind the coverage for his 40th TD pass of the year.
Senior defensive back Gavin Shipman also had a special moment late in the second half as he picked off Josh Lundy for the second time this season to seal the win. It was Shipman’s seventh career interception and his third against Hoover.
Jeremiah Alexander was a terror chasing Lundy around all night and bringing him down twice. The junior LB moved his season total to 28 tackles for loss passing his previous career-high of 25 set last year. He collected six total tackles while Nate Riddle led Thompson with seven and a tackle for loss. The defense held Hoover to just 172 total yards and 14 points, both being their lowest totals of the season.
The victory ensures the Class of 2021 has never lost at Warrior Stadium going undefeated with 24 consecutive wins. It also sets up the Class 7A State Championship where Thompson will face Auburn in hopes of claiming their second straight title. The game is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec 2 at 7 p.m.