10 points in 18 seconds!
The Alabama Class 7A state championship game between Thompson and Auburn on Wednesday night in Tuscaloosa featured one of the most incredible finishes you’ll ever see.
After turning the ball over on downs with 1:18 to play trailing by nine, 28–19, Thompson looked dead in the water. The turnover gave Auburn the ball at the Thompson 20-yard line, but instead of calling a few run plays and trying to score a dagger of a touchdown or move into position for a field goal that would make it a two-touchdown game, Auburn went into a shotgun victory formation. Thompson had just two timeouts remaining, so there would only be a few scant seconds on the clock once it got the ball back. As Auburn (having lost 25 yards kneeling out of the shotgun) prepared to punt the ball away and the clock ticked under 30 seconds, Thompson players consoled each other on the sideline.
But then came the first of several miracles. Thompson’s Korbyn Williams blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown.
Now, with 18 seconds on the clock and trailing 28–26, Thompson needed to recover the onside kick and score again. The Warriors accomplished the first part of that equation with relative ease. No Auburn player seemed particularly keen to try to recover the onside attempt, and it ended up in the hands of a Thompson player at the 46-yard line.
An NFL team could have run a quick 10-yard out route to put its kicker in position for a look at a long game-winner, but this is high school. Thompson needed some help.
That help came in the form of two pass interference penalties. The flags advanced the ball to the 18-yard line of the Tigers, giving Thompson kicker Trevor Hardy a chance to kick a 35-yard field goal for the win. It went through as time expired, giving Thompson a 29–28 victory.
That’s 10 points scored in 18 seconds.
Hardy was, rightfully, named MVP of the game. He came up huge there at the end, not only with the game-winner, but also with the perfect onside kick and the extra point after the blocked punt touchdown.
The victory sealed an undefeated season for Thompson and gave the Warriors their second straight state title, while Auburn was denied its first championship. It’s the eighth title for Thompson coach Mark Freeman, who won six titles before arriving at the suburban Birmingham public school in 2015. (He was the highest-paid high school coach in the state at the time of his hiring, with a salary of $121,000.)
“I’m basically speechless,” Freeman told AL.com. “The way things turned out in the end, the way it happened, is unbelievable.”
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