Thompson wins the 7A state championship with incredible comeback
Photo Credit: al.com
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA— The Thompson Warriors have had the perfect season, coming into the 7A State Championship game 13-0, and ranked as a Top 10 high school football team in the country according to MaxPreps. They were set to take on Auburn, who has never won a state championship before, and was looking to pull off the upset. While Thompson expected to be in the state championship given the season they’ve had, how they would win it was anything but expected.
After both teams’ defenses started the game off strong, and a missed field goal attempt by Auburn, the Thompson offense found a break. Quarterback, Conner Harrell, found JB Mitchell for a deep pass to bring the Warriors to the Auburn 18-yard line. Harrell then found Ryan Peppins in the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown to give Thompson a 6-0 lead (PAT no good). After the first quarter ended, Thompson had a 6-0 lead.
After a short punt by Thompson to start the second quarter, Auburn started with great field position from the 50-yard line. Auburn quarterback, Matthew Caldwell, led the Tigers down the field, and capped off the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Bryson Clague to give Auburn a 7-6 lead (PAT good).
However, Thompson answered, as Ryan Peppins gave the Warriors good field position with a kickoff return to their own 38-yard line. Conner Harrell did the rest, as he found Tre Roberson wide open for a 56-yard touchdown (PAT good).
Auburn still wouldn’t go away, as Matthew Caldwell took the ball himself 53 yards all the way to the Thompson 22-yard line. Caldwell then found Amaury Hutchinson in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown, and gave the Tigers a 14-13 lead going into halftime.
Auburn kept their momentum going at the start of the second half, as Matthew Caldwell ran for a big first down to the Thompson 47-yard line. However, the Tigers were brought to 4th and 1. Caldwell kept his strong run game going, as he found room and took it 44 yards for a touchdown (PAT good).
Coming into halftime, the Thompson Warriors faced some adversity, and they found out Conner Harrell will not be returning to the game due to a shoulder injury. Therefore, wide receiver, Tre Roberson, would take over as quarterback. Auburn took advantage, as Thompson punted a very short punt, and Auburn took over at the Thompson 15-yard line. JT Rogers then ran in the end zone for 8 yards and a touchdown, to give Auburn a 28-13 lead.
But the Thompson defense continued to come up big. On Auburn’s next possession, Thompson cornerback, Tony Mitchell, intercepted a pass at their own 24-yard line where the offense would take over. Tre Roberson then found Ryan Peppins for a deep pass to bring the Warriors to the Auburn 35-yard line.
Thompson was forced to punt to start the final quarter, but the defense would come up big once again. Matthew Caldwell fumbled the football, and linebacker, Jeremiah Alexander recovered at the Auburn 21-yard line. Tre Roberson then completed a pass to Ryan Peppins for 20 yards to bring the Warriors to the Auburn 1-yard line. Peppins then took a handoff from Jarrett Crockett on a wildcat play, and took it 2 yards into the end zone for a touchdown, bringing the score to 28-19 (2-point conversion no good).
The Auburn offense was forced to punt, but the defense came up with a big break. Tre Roberson threw a deep pass, and Auburn cornerback, Quay Nelms intercepted it and returned it to their own 46-yard line. The offense couldn’t answer, and was forced to punt. After the Thompson offense was brought to 4th and 15, Roberson threw an incomplete pass, and Auburn took over. Matthew Caldwell took a knee on each down until 4th down, and the Tigers then punted.
However, Ahmari Bolden blocked the punt for Thompson, and returned it for a touchdown to bring the Warriors within 2 points at 28-26 (PAT good). Thompson had to kick an onside kick in order to get the ball back. When they did, they recovered the ball at the Auburn 48-yard line. Roberson threw two incomplete passes. However, both passes were called pass interferences on Auburn, and Thompson was brought to the Auburn 20-yard line. By this point, the Warriors were in field goal range, and it was fourth down. Thompson kicker, Trevor Hardy, lined up for a 35-yard field goal, and made it. The Thompson sideline stormed the field, having won the state championship 29-28 with a game winning field goal.
Thompson completed their perfect season with arguably the best ending to a high school football game the state of Alabama has ever seen. The Warriors complete their season 14-0, and will likely remain inside the Top 10 high school football teams in the country for the remainder of the 2020-21 football season. The Auburn Tigers finish their season 11-2.