BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Thompson High School senior quarterback Sawyer Pate was 14-of-22 passing for 239 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for two short scores to lead the Warriors past defending Class 7A state champion Central-Phenix City 40-14 Wednesday night as the 2019 Super 7 State Football Championships opened at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The state title by Coach Mark Freeman’s Warriors (12-1) was the first in Class 7A and the second overall in school history and a culminate a rise out of the ashes – taking a program that was 0-10 the year before he arrive and five years later won the state title. The previous state title came 37 years earlier in 1982 in the Class 3A finals.
Thompson (12-1) fumbled on its opening possession but got the ball back quickly when Central (12-2) fumbled as well. Pate’s pinpoint passing got the Warriors’ offense in gear later in the opening period on a 10-play, 54-yard drive that was culminated by his first TD, a 1-yard sneak. The extra point failed but Thompson took the lead for good at 2:11 in the quarter 6-0. J.B. Mitchell capped a seven-play, 74-yard drive midway through the second quarter with a sterling 14-yard TD reception from Pate. Mitchell grabbed his second TD reception to cap a six-play, 64-yard drive later in the quarter to give Thompson a 20-0 lead.
Central’s offense marched 80 yards on eight plays on its next possession, however, with Trevion Miles scoring on 1-yard run to cut the lead to 20-7 with 1:42 left in the half. Pate wasn’t through, however. Thompson traveled 39 yards on nine plays in the final 1:40 with senior place-kicker Evan McGuire booting a 38-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the half to extend the lead to 23-7.
McGuire opened the scoring in the third period with a 22-yard field goal to extend the led to 26-7. Central receiver Robert Marsh hauled in a 39-yard pass from Tucker Melton to set up Antonio Atkins’ 11-yard TD run early in the fourth period to cut the Thompson lead to 26-14.
The Warriors responded with 79-yard march and a 9-yard TD run by Jermel Gaiters with 7:15 remaining to boost the lead to 44-14. Pate added a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:13 left to close the scoring.
Thompson had 25 first downs, converting 9-of-12 third-down plays, and finished with 359 yards on 66 offensive plays. Gaiters finished with 83 yards rushing on 19 carries, and Nathan Crockett had 50 yards on 13 tries. Mitchell finished with five catches for 71 yards and two TDs, Damion Ugbo had two catches for 60 yards and Michael Pettway caught two passes for 48 yards. The senior closed his season with 63e receptions for 1,154 yards and 16 scores. Pate finished 228-of-306 for 3,124 yards and 41 TDs.
Central had 14 first downs and 349 yards on 55 plays. Melton was 8-of-16 passing for 112 yards and Miles was 9-of-9 for 136 yards and the Red Devils had 248 yards passing overall. Marsh had four catches for 95 yards and Alexander Chase, four for 94 yards. Jeremiah Alexander had eight tackles, Gavin Shipman, Sam Reynolds and Jax Van Zandt each were in on seven tackles for Thompson. Jadon Richardson and Brent Randolph each had four tackles and two assists for Central.