Thompson 38, James Clemens 7
MONTGOMERY – Thompson quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who led the AHSAA in passing as a junior with 3,820 yards in 13 games, opened his senior season with a bang completing 10-of-13 passes in the first quarter for 185 yards and three touchdowns and had 309 yards by halftime to pace the Warriors (1-0) to a 38-7 win over James Clemens in the final game of the AHSAA’s 2018 Champions Challenge at Cramton Bowl.
Tagovailoa finished 26-of-39 for 385 yards and four touchdowns as Coach Mark Freeman’s team out-gained the Jets (0-1) 490 total yards to 353.
Junior receiver Michael Pettway had five catches for 118 yards and two scores, both coming in the first quarter covering 27 and 53 yards. Tagovailoa’s other first-half scoring toss went to senior Kyle Smoak for five yards – rolling up 309 passing yards by halftime and Thompson led 28-7. He found Will Hoffman for a 25-yard score early in the third period.
Running back Shadrick Byrd, who had 65 yards rushing on 14 carries, scored on a 3-yard run in the first half for Thompson, and Evan McGuire kicked five extra points, booted a 44-yard field goal with 3:26 left in the game to close out the scoring.
While Tagovailoa was red hot, James Clemens’ quarterback, senior Jamil Muhammad, caught fire in the second period – directing a 10-play, 82-yard drive delivering a 16-yard TD pass to Austin McGhee as the clock struck zero to cut the lead to 28-7. Muhammad was 11-of-13 in the first two quarters for 193 yards and finished 17-of-25 for 242 yards. Dylan Blackburn rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries and McGhee had six catches for 80 yards. Trevor Hunziker added five receptions for 78 yards. Coach Wade Waldrop’s punter Drew Blackwell averaged 39.3 yards on six punts.
Defensively, Jaylin Grigsby and Zach Hopkins had 11 tackles each for the Jets. Gage Motes had 13 stops, David Douglas and Sam Reynolds added eight each for Thompson.
Each team had one challenge per the AHSAA’s new Instant Replay program administered by DVSports. The first one, a James Clemens running play ruled a lost fumble, was overturned when officials reviewed the play. It was the first overturned call in the Instant Replay’s short history. The other challenge, by Thompson, confirmed the official’s call on the field that a Warriors receiver came down after matching a spectacular catch inside the James Clemens 15 in the final quarter.