How thorough was Thompson High’s 35-0 Class 7A Region 3 victory at Tuscaloosa County?
So much so that a five-touchdown margin probably didn’t give a true picture of just how thorough the win was for the Warriors.
Thompson (4-1 overall, 2-1 Region 3) ran 23 more plays than Tuscaloosa County and the Warriors outgained the Wildcats, 556-132. The only time that the Wildcats (1-4 overall, 0-3 Region 3) crossed midfield was when a kickoff was returned to the Warriors 45-yard line. That possession didn’t include a first down. In the second half, the Wildcats didn’t enter Thompson’s territory until there was 9:08 left in the fourth quarter.
Offensively, the Warriors got 350 yards passing from Taulia Tagovailoa and 206 yards on the ground. Shadrick Byrd rushed for 103 yards on 12 carries, including an impressive 56-yard touchdown burst.
“It’s a good win,” said Thompson head coach Mark Freeman. “Anytime you go on the road in this region and get a win, it’s good. We still got things to work on, but I think we did a good job when we had to and we got out of here with a win.”
Thompson’s offense built a 21-0 lead by halftime but entered the locker room feeling like it should be more.
The Warriors moved down the field on their opening possession. They put together a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Tagovailoa. The big play was a 50-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Michael Pettway.
That wasn’t a sign of things to come for the Thompson offense. The only other touchdown in the first 24 minutes of the first half was the one-play drive that was Byrd’s quick strike run.
“They were bringing six or seven guys,” Freeman said. “You live and die by it and we had some opportunities that we missed. It could have been a different deal.”
Thompson did close the half with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Byrd with 31.7 seconds remaining. The biggest plays of the 74-yard drive, prior to the touchdown, was a 38-yard pass from Tagovailoa to J.B. Mitchell and an 18-yard run by Tagovailoa.
Thompson opened the second half with a three-and-out by the defense and a scoring driving by the offense. Tagovailoa and Mitchell combined on a 11-yard pass for the touchdown. The only other second half touchdown came on a 7-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Pettway (nine catches for 115 yards) with 11:07 remaining.
That was more than enough support for a defense that dominated from the outset. Defensive back Jalen Bustamante had an interception and narrowly missed another. Defensive linemen Eric Mizell, Will Hoffman and Aubrey Glidewell led the way up front and linebacker Will Conner had another big game. Safety Elijah Clayton was the team’s leading tackler on the night.
“I’m really pleased with the defense, we got better tonight,” Freeman said. “We’re young. I’ve said the whole time that we’ve got to grow up. Every game we can go and win on the road, like this, is a good thing.”
Thompson takes a breath, now, with an upcoming bye week before returning to region play against Spain Park.
“We finally get a rest,” Freeman said. “We’ve got some guys banged up. We need the rest and get back and work on ourselves. We’ll find out what we’re doing.”