Central-Phenix City and Thompson both came in looking for something that had eluded them for so long – the coveted blue map. On a cold December night at Jordan-Hare stadium, the Red Devils left with prize after a dominating performance from start to finish over the Warriors.
Central came firing out of a cannon, immediately returning the opening kickoff 67 yards. Six plays later, Central had a touchdown and never looked back.
Thompson was forced to punt after their first drive and Central drove right down again for a score behind Peter Parrish’s running ability.
On Thompson’s second drive, Shadrick Byrd got things rolling, running for multiple 10+ yard carries. Then the ball was put in Taulia Tagovailoa’s hands, but he was sacked two plays in a row. The second time, he didn’t get up until the trainers looked at him and eventually got him to jog off slow. Tagovailoa was injured against Hoover, then injured tonight as well with a shoulder injury.
“The Hoover game was expensive for us,” said Thompson head coach Mark Freeman after tonight’s game when asked about his team being banged up.
After backup quarterback Sawyer Pate played one series, Tagovailoa was back, but Thompson still couldn’t get it going. Central was able to punch in another touchdown behind Parrish and Spivey on the ground in the second quarter.
Near the end of the half, Tagovailoa helped march Thompson down the field thanks to a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive going, but ultimately came away with nothing after time ran out in the red zone.
At the half, Central-Phenix City led 21-0 behind Parrish’s 8 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. Byrd led the way for Thompson with 109 all-purpose first half yards.
The second half didn’t go any better for Thompson as the Warriors turned the ball over on their first three possessions, all leading to Central scores: Tagovailoa threw an interception on the second play of the first drive which Ray Thornton returned 67 yards, Byrd fumbled the ball on the second play of the second drive after running into one of his offensive lineman, then Byrd fumbled the ball into a defender’s hand and Central scored a defensive touchdown. Central walked away with 17 points in total off those three turnovers.
Thompson then put together a short drive before turning it over on downs, however another interception on their next drive led to Central totaling 24 points off turnovers in the game.
Central would score once more before Thompson finally punched one in on a Sayer Pate touchdown pass to put the final score at 52-7.
The win gives Central their second ever state title and first since 1993. It caps off a 14-0 season, and the seniors will leave this team with a three year record of 35-3.
Running back A’Montae Spivey said after the game, “This is the start of a dynasty.” Spivey won’t be around to experience it though as he is set to head to Arkansas while quarterback Peter Parrish heads to LSU. On defense, Ray Thornton has committed to Clemson. Many players will leave this team, but Central has laid a foundation for the future under head coach Jamey Dubose who won his third state title after winning two with rival Prattville following Bill Clark’s tenure with the Lions.
Meanwhile, Thompson will also lose many of it’s top players, including QB Taulia Tagovailoa (committed to Alabama), RB Shadrick Byrd (uncommitted), OL Amari Kight (committed to Alabama) and LB Will Conner (committed to UAB). However, Mark Freeman has also laid a foundation, leading a team that was winless in 2014 to a state championship appearance only four years later.
Total Yards: 293
Rushing Yards: 85
Passing Yards: 208
First Downs: 19
Time of Possession: 25:49
QB Tagovailoa: 7/11, 44 yds, 1 INT, 8 carries, -11 yds
QB Pate: 5/12, 41 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
RB Byrd: 24 carries, 161 yds, 2 rec, 12 yds
RB Gaiters: 5 carries, 56 yds
WR Pettway: 6 rec, 37 yds
WR Hoffman: 2 rec, 33 yds, 1 TD
Total Yards: 406
Rushing Yards: 92
Passing Yards: 314
First Downs: 22
Time of Possession: 22:11
QB Parrish: 5/9, 78 yds, 1 TD, 11 carries, 100 yds, 1 TD
QB Melton: 1/4, 14 yds, 6 carries, 23 yds, 1 TD
RB Spivey: 14 carries, 78 yds, 1 TD, 2 rec, 40 yds
RB McKay: 6 carries, 47 yds, 1 TD
WR Dias: 3 rec, 28 yds, 1 carry, 2 yds
WR Williams: 1 rec, 24 yds 1 TD