Warriors Ground Eagles, Earn 5th Shutout Win
The Warriors took on a playoff mindset for their top ten matchup with region opponent Oak Mountain and played perhaps their most complete game of the season in a 48-0 shutout win Thompson dominated from start to finish.
“Every team we play from here on, starting tonight, will be a playoff team so we had to have our best performance,” said Mark Freeman. “We haven’t been real good on offense up until this point, I️ think tonight was our best performance.”
Thompson’s defense allowed just 13 yards on the Eagles’ first ten plays from scrimmage giving the offense the opportunity to come in and put up huge numbers in the first quarter.
Conner Harrell led his unit down the field on a seven play, 55 yard drive to start things off, ending with a perfect pass over the top to Justin Pegues from 29 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors’ average field position on their first three possessions was Oak Mountain’s 33 yard line and they needed just five more plays to score their next two touchdowns.
Harrell hit Ryan Peppins for his first TD of the night with 6:28 to go in the quarter and two minutes later Brandon Franklin bulldozed his way for a two yard score to put Thompson up 20-0 in stunning fashion.
A big kickoff return landed the Eagles on Thompson’s 47 yard line and found their rhythm on offense traveling deep inside the red zone. On second down, Oak Mountain quarterback Evan Smith was forced to leave the pocket and heaved a running throw to the end zone, but Tony Mitchell had a beat on it and snagged it out of the air for his second interception in the last two games.
A penalty on the return put the Warriors on their own eight yard line, but they struck quickly again. Harrell hit Pegues and Peppins on back-to-back 40 yard plays with the latter going for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead 19 seconds into the second quarter.
The Eagles threatened again on the next drive, but that series ended with more chaos in the red zone. An interception was wiped away by multiple penalties and gave OM a fresh set of downs which they used to set up a 36 yard field goal.
However, another penalty gave the Eagles another shot at the end zone, but a fumble recovered by Thompson’s Jake Ivie shattered their hopes again.
Evan Smith would leave the game for Oak Mountain later in the period and would not return. The offense stagnated without him and Thompson pounced again.
Ryan Peppins finished off a special first half performance with two more touchdowns of 80 and 26 yards to pile up 162 yards and four scores before halftime—both personal records.
With a 41-0 halftime lead, Thompson tacked on one more touchdown in the second half before running out the rest of the game clock. Peppins took another pass 60 yards for a career-high fifth touchdown giving him 17 for the year which leads the state.
Conner Harrell had one of his most productive nights of the season going 9-15 for 324 yards and tied a career-high with six touchdowns and 41 yards rushing. Justin Pegues had three receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Four Thompson rushers went for at least 41 yards as Brandon Franklin led the pack with 58 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
The defense finished with 12 tackles for loss posting eight in the first half alone. Peter Woods had two and a half with five total tackles while Jeremiah Alexander had six tackles with two for loss and a sack. Jake Ivie added another fumble recovery for two on the night. Tony Mitchell added a tackle for loss and his interception was the seventh of his career.
“You have to practice well and we had our best week of practice and if we do that we have a chance to play a lot more football,” said Freeman. “We found some leaders in practice this week and it showed tonight.”
The win sets Thompson up for a winner-take-all tilt at Hoover Friday, October 22 for the Region 3 title. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.