Warriors Overwhelm Florence, Advance to Quarterfinals
With the starting quarterback Conner Harrell unable to join his teammates as they began their playoff run, the rest of the Warriors stepped up and delivered a dominant win over the Florence Falcons Friday, November 5 by a score of 49-10.
“I️ was proud of the team, we had a good week of practice and we needed to play good because Zach (Sims) was going to play tonight,” said Mark Freeman. “I️ was so proud of Zach, proud of the way he played and the way the guys around him played.”
Thompson’s offense scored touchdowns on all of their first seven drives while the defense forced punts on six consecutive three-and-outs and stopped a fake punt attempt in the first half to shut the door on the Falcons.
Brandon Franklin scored two touchdowns before halftime and got the Warriors going with a five yard TD run with 8:40 to go in the first quarter.
Justin Pegues was sensational in his typical do-it-all fashion. The senior running back led Thompson in rushing, receiving and even took a snap as a wildcat QB dazzling the fans and racking up the yards.
His first big play led to the Warriors’ second touchdown as he took a short pass, juked a couple of defenders, then cut back across the field eluding more Falcons and catching a couple of timely blocks from his teammates for an amazing 55 yard touchdown.
Backup quarterback Zach Sims was poised in his starting debut for Thompson. A perfect example came on Thompson’s next score.
After being sacked in the red zone, Sims bounced back with a perfect 12 yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Ward in the corner of the end zone. It was Ward’s 10th TD of the season as he highpointed the ball perfectly, bringing both feet in bounds.
The sophomore QB took a few sacks in the game but completed eight of his nine passes in the first half for 157 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. He would finish 9-10 for 176 yards in a solid outing.
“After the first play I️ think everything settled down for me,” said Sims. “After all the adrenaline and everything going on, I just stayed focused and my teammates had my back. They made it really easy on me.”
Pegues would strike again in the second quarter, this time on the ground as he shook a tackle and darted 39 yards for his second and final touchdown of the night to put the Warriors ahead 27-0. He would finish with 98 yards rushing and 55 yards receiving.
The offensive line blocked for over 200 yards on the ground for the 9th time in 11 games this season. Brandon Franklin rushed for 46 yards on nine attempts with his two touchdowns. Sophomore running back AJ Green scored Thompson’s final two touchdowns and went for 36 yards on five runs.
Thompson’s defense gave up just 31 yards on 23 plays in the first half, had six tackles for loss in that same span and made sure Florence never seriously threatened. Tre’Quon Fegans picked off his third interception of the season and the 13th of his career.
Jax Van Zandt led the team with five tackles, four solo and Jeremiah Alexander added three tackles with one for loss.
“Good teams have guys who step up. When you lose a player that you've been counting on like we did Conner (Harrell) you’ve got to have guys step up,” said Freeman. “I️ think our defense took it personal tonight to make sure we weren’t in a situation where Zach was going to have to play under pressure.”
Thompson will host Oak Mountain in next week’s quarterfinal rematch with their county rival Friday, November 12 at 7 p.m.