Warriors Throttle Oxford to Begin 2021 Season
There was absolutely no stopping the Thompson Warriors in their season opener Friday, August 20 as they traveled to Oxford to cap off a home-and-home series between the two state football powerhouses. The defense didn’t allow a first down in the first half and the offense needed just nine minutes of game time to score their first six touchdowns en route to a dominant 55-0 shutout win.
The Warriors went to their main playmaker Ryan Peppins right off the bat with a couple of speed sweeps mixed in with some power runs from Brandon Franklin to get Thompson in the red zone. Ahmari Bolden slipped a block and walked into the end zone after Conner Harrell found him for the easy first score.
Thompson, true to form, did most of their damage through the air before halftime. Harrell needed just nine completions to stack up 179 yards and three touchdowns. Franklin would punch in two touchdowns of his own in the first half rushing six times for 30 yards.
Peppins scored his first TD of the year on a pop pass with 12 seconds to go in the first quarter as he rushed to the edge and found the cut back lane eluding several defenders for the 21 yard score.
What little adversity the Warriors did face, they handled with ease. An Oxford defender wrestled away a pass from Harrell for the game’s first turnover, but Thompson’s defense didn’t blink.
The Yellowjackets finally had the ball in Thompson territory, but came away with nothing in four straight plays, turning it back over to THS. It was one of seven straight three-and-outs Thompson’s defense forced to start the game. They allowed just 25 yards of offense in the entire first half.
Harrell responded immediately with a 35 yard strike to Jaylen Ward for a 28-0 lead and the Warriors took a 34-0 advantage into the locker room. Harrell and Ward would connect on another long ball as Ward hauled in 82 yards in the first half to lead the team.
The opening half also served as a platform to showcase Thompson’s punt returner Justin Pegues who was sensational returning four kicks for 90 yards. Pegues, who transferred from Spain Park, took one punt back inside Oxford’s 10 yard line and would’ve taken another one to the end zone, but it was called back due to a penalty. Pegues also caught two passes for 44 yards from the slot.
With a big lead and the defense in full control, Thompson ran their starters out for one more series to start the third quarter. Harrell would find Peppins one more time for an 11 yard touchdown that would put a cap on both of their performances for the evening. Harrell finished 11-14 for 214 yards and 4 touchdowns while Peppins grabbed four receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns.
The ground game took over for Thompson as they bled clock and showcased their depth at running back. After rushing for only 47 yards in the first half the Warriors gashed the Yellowjackets for 170 after halftime with 83 of those coming from senior RB Lione Cook who also scored a touchdown. AJ Green added 75 more yards on 10 rushes.
The defense finished with 11 tackles for loss allowing just 27 total yards from scrimmage including a -6 margin in passing yardage. Jeremiah Alexander lead the defense with seven total tackles, two for loss and 1.5 sacks while Jake Ivie and Seth Hampton also nabbed two tackles for loss each. It’s the Warriors third shutout since Week 5 of last season.
The Warriors will return home Friday, August 27 to host Sparkman in a rematch of last year’s 39-7 win.