Thompson High’s football team won’t finish unbeaten in regular season play. Other than that, the Warriors’ goals are still in front of them following Friday night’s 45-26 loss to Hoover at the Hoover Met.
The Warriors stumbled early, falling into a 21-0 hole, had trouble stopping the Bucs all night and made some costly special teams mistakes. Offensively, the Warriors moved the ball well but a some uncharacteristic mistakes hindered the offense.
Put it all together and Thompson head coach Mark Freeman and his staff will have plenty of teaching points during film work and practice next week.
“We came up short tonight,” said Freeman. “We made some mistakes in the kicking game and had a tough time stopping them on defense. We missed some opportunities to close the gap offensively, but we fought back. Hoover is a talented football team. Our kids played with great effort and never gave up.”
The offense numbers that the teams put up was staggering.
Thompson (2-1 overall, 0-1 Region 3) amassed 557 yards on 81 offensive plays with 474 of those yards coming through the air. Sophomore wide receiver J.B. Mitchell had a sensational night with 12 catches for 152 yards. Taulia Tagovailoa threw the ball 61 times, completing 33, and had four touchdown passes. However, it was his lone interception that ended a valiant comeback attempt by the Warriors.
Hoover had 514 yards on 69 offensive plays with 305 coming on the ground. Quarterback Robby Ashford and running back Larry McCammon combined for 249 yards.
The game’s opening minutes were a sign of things to come on a frustrating night for the Warriors. Hoover took the opening kickoff and grinded its way down the field, wiggling out of several jams. Thompson eventually found a way to stop the Bucs but Kyle Smoak mishandled a punt, giving Hoover the ball on the 1-yard line. McCammon scored on the next play.
Hoover (2-1 overall, 1-0 Region 3) built a 21-0 lead before Thompson got on the board with a 8-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Smoak (8 catches, 89 yards) with 7:31 left in the first half. The extra point was blocked.
The Bucs added a field goal before quick strike 3-play Thompson drive ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to A.J. Bonham. The touchdown pass came one play after Bonham’s 34-yard reception.
Thompson trailed, 24-12, at halftime and received the ball to open the second half. A promising drive was stifled by a string of incomplete and dropped passes and ended with a missed field. Hoover answered with a touchdown drive to build the advantage to 31-12.
The Warriors refused to go down easily. Tagovailoa found Michael Pettway for a 48-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-5 and added a two-point conversion pass to Smoak. Elijah Clayton made a spectacular interception on the following drive, wrestling the ball away from Hoover’s George Pickens. The Warrior offense put together a 12-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard scoring strike from Tagovailoa to Pettway. The two-point conversion pass failed but the Warriors had the lead trimmed to 31-26 with 2:46 left in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, that was the closest the Thompson would get to the Bucs. Hoover was able to make the plays it needed – on both sides of the ball – to emerge with the win.
Thompson has to regroup quickly with next week’s Warrior Stadium opener against Region 3 foe Oak Mountain looming.
“This is one of many games this season,” Freeman said. “We will get back to work on Sunday and look forward to next week at home against Oak Mountain.”