Warriors Down Rebels at Home, Extend Winning Streak
The Warriors needed a complete team effort to defeat region opponent Vestavia Hills and got one as the took a big early lead and pulled away late thanks to some key stops and big plays. The 38-9 win gives Thompson a perfect 7-0 record and their 11th straight win dating back to last season.
Receiver Ryan Peppins started the night off with a bang taking the opening kickoff just shy of his own end zone and, after a couple of cuts, burst up the field and left everyone behind for a 99 yard touchdown return. Peppins’ previous high for the year had been 62 in the season opener versus Oxford.
The Warrior defense surrendered only one first down on both of the Rebels’ opening drives and gave up just 50 yards to Vestavia’s vaunted rushing attack in the first half.
Thompson’s first drive was a balanced attack with Sam Reynolds darting through holes at the line of scrimmage and an all-time accurate night for quarterback Conner Harrell. It would be Reynolds who would strike first though as he busted through from the 25 yard line, cut right and found the end zone for his first TD of the night.
Harrell would find Peppins next as the shifty receiver separated down field making the catch in the end zone from 29 yards out. It would be a night where no one from Vestavia could match up in the slot with no. 2. Kicker Trevor Hardy would connect on a 21 yard field goal on the next drive to give the Warriors a 24-0 lead with 4:20 to go in the half.
The Rebels finally found their rhythm through the air and scored on drives before and after halftime. All in all, 13 players from Vestavia either carried or received for the team in Buddy Anderson’s final visit to Warrior Stadium. A 31 yard FG with 5:20 left in the third quarter cut the Warriors’ lead to 15.
Vestavia Hills threatened again deep in Thompson territory after the Rebels got another stop on defense. A pass interference penalty got them inside the five yard line, but the Warrior defense held strong and forced the Rebels to go for the desperation score on fourth down. The Warriors would stand them up at the two yard line to steal possession and extinguish the threat.
Thompson wasn’t out of danger yet, but Conner Harrell stood tall in the shadow of their own end zone and fired a pass deep toward the sideline to Tre Roberson at midfield. Roberson had some room and floated underneath the pass making an over-the-shoulder grab to give his team some much-needed breathing room. Not long after Harrell zeroed in on Peppins once more for a 39 yard score to ice the game.
Sam Reynolds would find the end zone a second time with 5:42 remaining to give Thompson their final score. His 26 yard TD finished a career night from the running back position as he piled up 119 yards on 17 carries with one reception for three yards. The South Carolina commit is now over 500 yards of total offense for the year.
Harrel had another stellar, efficient evening going 19-22 for 314 yards and two TDs. Harrell also became the first QB in Alabama to pass for 2,000 yards this season. Ryan Peppins who would finish as the top target with nine receptions for 156 yards and two kick returns for 107 yards. It was his third game with at least 100 yards receiving and the junior also went over 500 yards for the year. The nine catches are the most by any player this year.
Tre Roberson and JB Mitchell finished with 63 and 77 yards receiving, respectively. Mitchell had all his yards in the first half and, in the process, passed 2,000 career receiving yards joining Michael Pettway who also passed the milestone as a senior last year. Mitchell has 653 yards in 2020 to lead all receivers in 7A.
Senior linebacker Triston Woody led the Warrior defense piling up 7.5 tackles with one for loss. Jax Van Zandt added 6.5 tackles from the LB spot as well. Gavin Shipman was fantastic in the secondary logging four tackles, one for loss and broke up three passes. This is the fourth game where the defense has held an opponent to single digits scoring.
After two games at home, Thompson will head back on the road for a two game stint the first being a trip to new Region 3 opponent Gadsden City. Kickoff versus the Titans will be Friday, Oct 9 at 7 p.m.