ALABASTER — Austin’s hopes of keeping its season alive vanished in the blink of an eye against No. 4 Thompson on Friday night. The Black Bears fell behind by 28 points in the first quarter and couldn’t recover, losing to the Warriors 54-20 in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.
Thompson led 21-0 with 4:36 left in the first quarter and 40-0 with 3:34 left in the first half.
“I told them that life is not about what happens to you,” Austin coach Jeremy Perkins said. “It’s about how you respond to it. I told the seniors I was proud of them. The underclassmen have a lot to do to get better.”
Everything seemed to go wrong for Austin after the opening kickoff.
The Black Bears had a snap go over quarterback Quincy Crittendon’s head on the first play of the game. Thompson recovered then scored on its first offensive play.
Thompson then forced a three-and-out and scored four plays later on one of quarterback Sawyer Pate’s four touchdown passes.
Austin had a punt blocked on its next possession. Thompson recovered and scored on its next play on a 15-yard touchdown pass by Pate.
Thompson took a 28-0 lead after a 36-yard touchdown run despite running only eight plays on offense.
“You have to come out early as a home team and establish some momentum,” Thompson coach Mark Freeman said. “We’re fortunate to get a win.”
Thompson would score two more times before Austin got on the board. Crittendon connected with his go-to target, wide receiver Tre Shackleford, for a 77-yard touchdown. Shackelford caught five passes for 110 yards.
Thompson then scored before the half on another touchdown pass from Pate. This one went for 26 yards. Pate was 11 of 11 for 220 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half. Thompson led 47-7.
The Warriors poured it on even more by taking the opening kickoff of the second half 98 yards to make it 54-7. Austin would score two more times on runs of 1 and 97 yards by senior running back Tybo Williams.
Williams is one of 19 seniors for the Black Bears. That includes standout linebackers Charles Baker and Awysum Harris, as well as defensive backs JT Johnson, Tarik Sykes and Jaylon Barrett. Captains Bradley Barnett and Jabari Brown will also graduate.
“They are a great bunch of young men,” Perkins said. “They work hard. They’ve accomplished a lot of things. This won’t take away from that.”
Austin finishes the season at 7-4. Thompson will move on to play Florence in the second round.