Warriors Hitting on All Cylinders, Dispatch Huskies
The no. 1 ranked Thompson Warriors turned a highly anticipated matchup with no. 3
Hewitt-Trussville into a route Friday, Nov 13 capitalizing on a few Huskie turnovers on defense and dominating the trenches on offense to take a convincing 42-16 win to advance to the stage semi-finals for the fourth year in a row.
Hewitt-Trussville stifled the Thompson offense at midfield and forced a punt on the first
possession of the game. The Warriors defense did the same and forced what everyone though would be a punt on 4th and 16 from the 39 yard line. But Josh Floyd opted for a fake punt, gambling again similar to their first drive in their Week 4 matchup with Thompson.
The Huskies thought they had everyone fooled, but sophomore linebacker Seth Hampton was lurking, recognized the play and chased down the punter with a perfect angle to set the Warriors up at the Hewitt-Trussville 44 yard line. Conner Harrell guided the offense down the field and found JB Mitchell in the back of the end zone on a six yard toss to strike first blood in the quarter final. As the game leaked into the second quarter the defense got a stop and the ball back to the offense who quickly moved up field. Harrell and Jarrett Crockett did as they pleased in the run game behind a bruising offensive line as Harrell kept the ball on several option runs for big gains while Crockett gashed the Huskies between the tackles and bounced outside for multiple double digit runs as well.
Thompson would go on to gain 145 yards rushing in the first half alone and the attention to the ground game left Ryan Peppins wide open for Harrell’s second touchdown pass a few seconds into the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. Hewitt responded with a lengthy drive as their run game found its rhythm. The Huskies drove
deep into the Warriors’ red zone, but a fumbled snap and a big third down stop inside the ten
left them with only a 28 yard field goal. Peppins made the Huskies even sorrier they didn’t come away with six on the very next play as he sidestepped the first would-be tackler, bounced off a teammate and cut through a hole in the coverage to the right sideline as he left everyone in the dust for a 75 yard kick return TD—his second return TD of the year tying Michael Pettway’s total from last year.
Hewitt responded the only way they could in a must-score situation as Sean Jackson and the
run game got a great push again and this time found the end zone on Cade Carruth’s seven
yard fade pass to Omari Kelly to draw within 11. The Huskies would get the ball back with great position near midfield, but the Warrior defense stepped up again and forced a three-and-out to preserve the 21-10 lead. They would get another golden opportunity after halftime as an unsportsmanlike penalty and several false starts on the kickoff landed them at the Thompson 45 yard line without lifting a finger. The opportunity would be squandered again, however, as Sean Jackson fumbled at the 28 and Jeremiah Alexander emerged from the scrum with the ball (and the momentum). A couple of minutes later Harrell and Mitchell connected again, this time from 13 yards out for another TD to put Thompson up 28-10. The defense shut down the Husky attack the rest of the quarter and well into the fourth as the game became lopsided with time. Thompson kept their foot on the gas completing a back-breaking 3rd and 17 to extend their next drive into Hewitt territory. Faced with a fourth down in field goal range Mark Freeman opted to go for it and the risk was rewarded as Harrell lifted a moonshot to Sam Reynolds who snagged the ball at the one yard line and spun left past a defender and into the end zone for a 35-10 lead. It was the offensive line’s best game of the year in the very spot they needed it as the paved the way for Crockett’s 119 yard performance (his third straight 100 yard game) and Harrell’s first 100 yard game on the ground as he just hit the century mark on his 12th run of the game. Jarrett would score the Warriors’ final TD with 9:36 to go in the fourth. The Thompson defense had held the Huskies’ vaunted run game to their previous season-low and had an even more impressive repeat performance holding Hewitt to their only sub-200 yard game of the entire season. Jax Van Zandt and Jeremiah Alexander led the defense getting in on eight and six tackles respectively with Kobe Stewart, Tony Mitchell and Trevor Hardy all getting five each. They would hold Hewitt’s two headed monster at running back to five yards a carry
while Thompson would go for 6.6 yards a clip on the other side of the ball.
Conner Harrell finished 14-22 for 175 yards and four touchdowns as Ryan Peppins led all
receivers with 84 yards on six receptions, racked up 184 total yards of offense in the game and his 15th TD of the season left him alone as the top-scoring wide receiver in Class 7A.
JB Mitchell, who leads all 7A receivers in total yards, also grabbed six receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns giving him 11 on the year. Sam Reynolds’ 21 yard TD reception made him the third Warrior receiver with ten total scores on the year.
The big win sets up the Warriors to host the Hoover Buccaneers as the two titans of Region 3 meet in the state semifinals for the fourth year in a row. The kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov 20.