Warriors Fall in Epic Battle and Nationally Televised Matchup with Clay-Chalkville
The world was treated to an incredible game in the heart of Alabaster, AL Friday, Sept 28 as nationally ranked teams met for a cross-classification clash. The lead changed hands multiple times throughout the night, but in a great game where someone had to lose, the Warriors’ comeback attempt fell just short of Clay-Chalkville in a wild finish at home, 36-33.
Head coach Mark Freeman wasn’t concerned as much with what the team lost, but more about what they gained in the duel of two of the top teams in the state.
“You don’t ever want to lose, but we learned something tonight,” Freeman said. “You always have to learn something from your failures, and we’ve got to get back four, five, six plays, we have to make them. We grew up tonight and we have to continue to get better to be a football team that will be there competing at the end of the season. We’ve got to get better, and tonight was a step forward for us.”
The pace was fast and furious in this one as Peyton Lewis’ second interception of the year put the Warriors in business at Cougars’ 33-yard line.
Trent Seaborn lofted a pass down the right side line and connected with Deuce Oliver to put the Warriors inside the 10-yard line. From there, AJ Green powered his way into the end zone from 6 yards out to take the games first lead, 7–0.
A stop from the defense gave the Warriors the ball with a 61-yard field in front of them. Seaborn guided the offense down the field, converting two fourth downs in the process. Then the freshman quarterback connected with his fellow underclassmen Colben Landrew on a slant route across the middle to give Thompson a 13–0 lead.
With the Cougars’ pass game becoming ineffective, Clay-Chalkville sold out to run the football and did so behind their five star quarterback Jaylen Mbakwe. A slow, plodding drive sparked by a dump off pass landed them inside Thompson’s ten yard line. The Warriors were able to stop a third down goal line attempt, but Mbakwe and his teammates finally made the push on fourth down across the goal line to get on the scoreboard.
One stop later, the Cougars dug their way deep inside Thompson territory again with the run game now in full rhythm. Mbakwe converted a third down to get inside the five yard line, then plunged into the end zone to give Clay their first lead 14–13.
The drive ran the clock dry as the Cougars took the lead into halftime and got the ball to start the second half.
Thompson adjusted to stop the run on the opening drive and senior linebacker Jayden Davis made a stack on third down to force a punt.
Seaborn and the Warriors struck again as Kolby Hearn found himself wide open down the left side line. The senior wide receiver made a mad dash the rest of the way for a 64-yard touchdown. That connection would come up big again in the game's waning moments.
Mbakwe’s arm would betray him again on the next drive, as pressure forced an errant downfield pass into the waiting arms of Anquon Fegans for his first interception of the season.
Seaborn looked to Landrew again on the ensuing drive, finding him down the right sideline for a big gain. The tall sophomore went up high to catch the pass and finished through contact, shrugged off a defender and trotted into the end zone for a 26–14 score.
With their backs against the wall to start the fourth quarter, the Cougars got back to the run game. Running back Aaron Osley had a big run to get to the Warriors’ 25 and a heavy dose of Mbakwe dragged Clay–Chalkville within a score once again.
After Thompson’s offense went thre-and-out, Clay returned to their winning formula on the ground.
Another grinding touchdown drive took six minutes off the clock and set up the Cougars with a slim 29–26 lead after a two-point conversion on a pass to one of their offensive linemen.
Seaborn and the offense began the drive to retake the lead, but pressure forced the freshman quarterback to throw on the run along the right sideline that Clay’s Roderick Ivy snagged just before falling out of bounds near midfield.
The Cougars turned the pick into points and held a seemingly insurmountable 36-26 lead with precious time left, but the Warriors just went back to work. Moments later Seaborn sent a dart across the middle to Hearn who juggled the catch, cut back and outraced his defenders to close the score to a 39-36 gap.
Forced to go for an onside kick, John McGuire popped up a perfect attempt high in the air with enough time for Fegans to go up and secure the possession.
Seaborn, with one final shot, worked Thompson down to the Cougars’ 30 yard line and a field goal attempt to force overtime. Unfortunately McGuire’s 47-yard kick had the distance but tailed off just left of the uprights to end the comeback bid.
Searborn finished 14-25 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Kolby Hearn led all receivers with four catches for a career-high 164 yards and two touchdowns. Colben Landrew caught two receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns. AJ Green led the offense in rushing with 46 yards and a TD.
Trent Cheathom led the defense with eight tackles, while Jayden Davis and Kaleb Harris totaled four tackles a piece.
Thompson (4-1, 3-0) will take on Hewitt-Trussville in a huge Region 3 matchup next week on the road Friday, Oct 6 at 7 p.m.