Easy it was not, but that just added to a special evening for the Thompson Warriors. Early adversity didn’t stop the Warriors, who grinded their way to a come-from-behind 21-20 victory over a very good Hapeville Charter team on Friday night at Larry Simmons Stadium.
The winning points came with 8:05 remaining when junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa connected with Shadrick Byrd on a 7-yard touchdown pass. Samuel Serrato’s extra point provided the final point of the game.
“We got down, kept persevering, made mistakes and hurt ourselves,” said Thompson High head coach Mark Thompson. “We expected there to be kinks. We had to work through those and kept working and chopping wood. Hapeville is a great team with great athletes. I’m really proud of our kids.”
Hapeville, which is one of the top teams in Georgia, scored the first 17 points of the game. Instead of folding, however, the Warriors managed to score a touchdown drive in the final minute of the first half. Senior running backs Jojo Ford scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run with 43 seconds left before halftime. The score was set up by a game-changing interception deep in enemy territory by Thompson linebacker Josh Huner.
The Warriors cut deeper into the deficit early in the third quarter. Tagovailoa threw his first touchdown pass in a Thompson uniform, hitting senior Morris Edwards from 35 yards out. Serrato added the extra point to cut Hapeville Charter’s lead to 17-14.
The visitors managed a field goal late in the third quarter but the Warriors were the only team to score in the fourth quarter.
Tagovailoa was 31-of-42 for 329 yards with the two touchdowns and no interception. Junior receiver Ahmad Edwards had 15 catches for 136 yards, Mo Edwards had five catches for 79 yards and junior Chris Hopkins had four catches for 75 yards. Seniors Josh Huner and Myles Brown each had 5.5 tackles with Huner collecting three tackles for loss. Senior Jalen Rayam had five tackles and the Warriors had three sacks overall.