The Thompson Warrior defense was more than up to the challenge on Friday night in a thorough 49-14 Class 7A Region 3 victory over Oak Mountain at Heardmont Park.
Thompson head coach Mark Freeman worried this week about facing the ball-control option attack of the Eagles. A good week of preparation turned into a successful night for the defense.
“We had to play great defensively,” Freeman said. “We have had trouble in the past dealing with Oak Mountain and we are just happy to get the win.”
Thompson (4-0 overall, 2-0 Region 3) limited the Eagles (3-2, 1-2 Region 3) to 260 yards on 61 plays with only 98 of that coming on the ground. Oak Mountain converted on just 1-of-11 third downs. Linebacker Jalen Rayam had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and an interception. Fellow linebacker K.J. Robertson had five tackles and an interception.
“Our defensive staff and those players did a great job,” Freeman said.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa directed another explosive night for the Thompson offense. The junior quarterback was 26-of-32 for 404 yards with five touchdowns.
“Taulia is working extremely hard,” said Freeman, whose team ended with 501 total yards. “He is constantly studying and working to get better.”
His big night began with a 92-yard touchdown strike to Ahmad Harris-Edwards on the game’s opening drive. Oak Mountain countered with a touchdown but the Warriors closed the first half with 21 consecutive points.
Running back Shad Byrd scored two successive touchdowns before Tagovailoa closed the first half scoring with a 10-yard pass to Michael Pettway. The Warriors led, 28-7, at halftime.
Oak Mountain opened the scoring in the first half but the Eagles never got closer than the 28-14 deficit. Tagovailoa had second half scoring tosses of 20 yards to Byrd and 44 and 3 yards to Mo Edwards.
“Offensively, we just got to keep getting better,” Freeman said. “Our kids are continuing to learn.”
Harris-Edwards finished in double digits in receptions once again. The senior receiver grabbed 14 passes for 228 yards. Mo Edwards had seven catches for 129 yards while Byrd rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries and caught two passes for 22 yards. Samuel Serrato converted on all seven of his point after attempts.
“What a big win,” Freeman said. “We haven’t beat this team in a long time. I’m really proud of our kids.”