Warriors Overwhelm Hoover, Advance to 5th Straight State Championship
With revenge on their minds, Mark Freeman and the Warriors returned to the Hoover Met Friday, Nov 18 and played their best game of the season to date. Thompson dominated in all three phases of the game and put their 9-0 home loss to the Bucs in the rear view mirror with an impressive 40-10 win to garner a bid to their fifth straight state championship game.
The Warriors rediscovered their run game in the second half of their quarterfinal match with Vestavia Hills and that momentum flowed seamlessly into the following week.
“We had to run the football tonight. Nobody has run the football on them. This time of year, you have to play great defense and you have to run the football,” said Freeman, after the win. “We’re good enough to where we can throw the ball around the field. We’re playing about as good as we can play right now.”
Thompson’s defense set the tone from the opening drive. Five plays in Jake Ivie deflected a Hoover pass into the arms of Kaleb Harris to give the Warriors possession at the Hoover 40 yard line. Working their way inside the red zone, Thompson had to settle for John McGuire’s 34-yard field goal, but that would be the last time.
After forcing a three-and-out, Thompson began to enforce their will in the ground game. AJ Green ran seven times on the 12 play drive, including a 25-yard rumble, and busted into the end zone from one yard out for a 10-0 lead with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.
Fatigue began to set in on the Buccaneers as the offense went three-and-out again on the next drive. This time it was Michael Dujon who ripped off a big 24-yard run which was capped off by a facemask penalty. Now on Hoover’s 25 yard line, Thompson continued to pound it. Dujon rushed five more times and broke through from the one for his first touchdown of the night and a 17-0 lead.
Both defenses made multiple stops after that including multiple interceptions, but it would be Thompson who had the final day of the half. With 19 seconds remaining, Anquon Fegans slid in front of a pass and returned it fifty plus yards for a pick six and a 24-0 lead that shocked the home crowd.
That set the stage for one of the wildest third quarters in recent memory. Thompson failed to manufacture any points off a muffed Hoover kick reception and the Bucs fired off a 75-yard touchdown two plays later to finally get on the board.
The Warriors were stopped on their following possession, but an excellent punt placed Hoover inside their own five yard line. On the first play a fumbled snap gave the Thompson rush enough time to get home as Jake Ivie leveled a blindside sack for the safety and a 26-7 lead.
A sigh of relief from Warriors fans was short-lived, however, as the ensuing free kick was bobbled, fumbled and recovered by Hoover on the one yard line. Yet, it only served as another stage for Thompson’s defense to showcase their strength. Two Buccaneer runs rendered a loss of a yard and a penalty pushed them back even further. Then, on a desperation third down, Thompson’s front seven prevailed again with another clutch sack forcing a Hoover field goal.
With a huge chance squandered, things were only about to become worse for the Bucs. On third down and six yards to go, Coach Freeman dialed up a reverse around the left end to Korbyn Williams who darted through a hole and sped across the field. Accompanied by blockers downfield, Williams had the foresight to cut back behind them avoiding one last tackler for a 75-yard touchdown that send the Thompson sideline into a fit with a 33-10 lead at the end of the third quarter.
With the lead back to four scores, the ferocity of the Warrior defense didn’t waiver. Peter Woods came away with two sacks on Hoover’s next drive and Seth Hampton snatched his second interception of the game, nearly returning the pick for a touchdown if not for a penalty on the return.
Michael Dujon capped the evening with 42 yards on the final drive, including a 30 yard run and a one yard touchdown.
Dujon led the offense with his first 100-yard performance of the year with 107 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. AJ Green added 70 yards on 18 attempts and a touchdown as Thompson’s offensive front ran for 247 of their 304 all-purpose yards. Quarterback Trent Seaborn finished 12-18 for 57 yards feeding Deuce Oliver five times for 25 yards. Korbyn Williams had two receptions for 18 yards to go with his 75-yard TD run.
It was the fourth time Thompson’s defense forced five turnovers in a game as Anquon Fegans’ inception marked his Class 7A-leading ninth pick of the year. Seth Hampton’s interceptions were his second and third of the year for the Senior and he added a tackle for loss. Peter Woods led the unit with 7 solo tackles including two sacks. Those give Peter 21 tackles for loss on the year—the second consecutive year he has done so, joining Jeremiah Alexander.
The victory sends the Warriors to Auburn University where they will face Auburn High School for the second time in three seasons. The 7A championship will take place at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Wednesday, Nov 30 at 7:00 p.m.