Thompson downs Oak Mountain to remain perfect

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Thanks to a strong end to the first half, the Thompson Warriors remained perfect with a 49-21 win on the road against Oak Mountain on Friday, Oct. 16.

In a 21-14 game, Oak Mountain was in need of a stop with 3:20 to play in the opening half, but instead, the Warriors got an 11-yard touchdown run from Conner Harrell on third-and-goal to take a 28-14 lead.

Then, the Warriors twisted the hatchet with two consecutive defensive scoop-and-scores from Tony Mitchell and Greg Green on the next two Eagle drives to make it a four-score game at the break.

“Anytime you come over and play that team, they’re very well coached and they’re different than what you’re going to see week in and week out,” Thompson head coach Mark Freeman said. “I was really proud of our kids. It took a great week of practice because that’s a really good football team. Our kids answered every question we had.”

Early in the game, Thompson was efficient, but Oak Mountain had the recipe to keeping the game close.

Of course, the Warriors flashed their dynamic offense quickly to take the early lead when Harrell hit Sam Reynolds for a wide receiver bubble screen on the outside that ended with Reynolds going 65 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmage.

Already down 7-0, Oak Mountain went three-and-out on its first drive and Thompson quickly took advantage. This time it took a few more plays but only four more as Ryan Peppins capped off a quick drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to put the Warriors on top 14-0 less than four minutes into the game.

Oak Mountain, however, came back with the recipe for success. The Eagles went on a 12-play drive with several big plays from Cade George, who eventually scored on an 8-yard touchdown run on Third and-2.

Thompson’s efficiency continued on the ensuing drive and it continued to be quick. The Warriors needed just two plays, as Harrell connected on another wide out screen, this time to J.B. Mitchell.

After catching the ball and showing patience, Mitchell found a seam and went 70 yards to the house for a touchdown to put Thompson on top 21-7 with 1:24 left in the opening quarter.

But the Eagles came back with another perfect drive. They used 13 plays and more than six minutes of time to keep the Thompson offense off the field and eventually score on a 3-yard Judah Tait touchdown run to make it 21-14 with 5:25 left in the half.

That’s when the game took a turn.

Thompson put together its longest drive of the half, with a whopping 2:17 coming off the clock, to extend the lead. The Eagles were hoping for a stop to end the half, but instead, on third-and-goal from the Oak Mountain 11, Harrell scrambled and took off for a touchdown to make it 28-14.

The Eagles were looking to close the half out with another strong drive to either eat the rest of the clock or score and make it a 28-21 game, but instead on the first play of the ensuing drive, the ball was fumbled and scooped up by Tony Mitchell, who went 30 yards to the end zone for a 35-14 lead.

Then, with a minute left on Oak Mountain’s ensuing drive, the ball popped up in the air and landed in the hands of Thompson’s Greg Green, who took it 80 yards for yet another scoop-and-score to all of a sudden make it 42-14 at the half.

“That was huge,” Freeman said of the turnovers. “You got to go in and plan on trying to make some big plays and we got two turnovers. That was big in the game.”

That was all of the cushion the Warriors needed.

Despite better play from Oak Mountain in the second half, the clock ran faster with just three combined drives from both teams in the third quarter.

The Eagles scored on a 28-yard touchdown from Evan Smith early in the fourth quarter, but it was offset by a 34-yard touchdown pass from Harrell to Peppins to complete the 49-21 game.

Harrell finished the game 11-of-14 passing for 239 yards and four touchdowns to lead Thompson. Mitchell led all receivers with 85 yards and a touchdown.

Judah Tait led Oak Mountain with 179 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.

Thompson will now battle Hoover for the region title next week, while Oak Mountain will take on Hewitt-Trussville for the three seed.

“We got to go home and look at them,” Freeman said. “We didn’t have time this week to do anything but concentrate on ourselves and Oak Mountain. This game meant a lot and was a big game.”