With just over one minute of regulation left, players for Thompson High School were consoling each other on the sideline as it certainly looked like they would end their season as the runners-up of the Alabama Class 7A state title game. They had just turned the ball over and were trailing, 28-19, to Auburn High School.
Things looked even more dire when Auburn ran the clock all the way down to the final 30 seconds of the game. That there was any time left in the game clock at all was a result of the team deciding to go straight into victory formation and Thompson using its final two timeouts. They would somehow need to score 10 points in 18 seconds to win the game.
On fourth down, Auburn then lined up to punt the ball in a move that they seemed to believe would officially put the game on ice. But Thompson’s Korbyn Williams had other ideas. He broke through Auburn’s blockers and not only blocked the punt, but returned it for a touchdown.
Yes, that was a pretty massive blunder on Auburn’s part, but the good news was that they were still up by two points after the touchdown and just needed to prevent the much more difficult part of this comeback attempt: recovering the onside kick. Surely this team wouldn’t make two late jaw-dropping errors in a row, right?
Oh no. Alright, admittedly things turned pretty bad for Auburn at this stage of the game. However, there were just 18 seconds left, Thompson doesn’t have any timeouts remaining and the ball was recovered on the 46-yard line. All it would really take was one defensive stop, and Auburn would win its first state title in program history.
That stop would never come. In fact, Auburn’s defense helped facilitate Thompson’s late game drive as not one, but two defensive pass interference penalties were called that moved the ball to the 18-yard line. If a miracle was going to come, it would have to be Thompson’s 35-yard field goal attempt missing its mark. Of course, anyone paying attention to how things had gone so far could probably have predicted how that kick would turn out.
It is once again worth mentioning that 10 points were scored in 18 seconds. Kicker Trevor Hardy was the game’s MVP, as AL.com noted, due to his game-winning field goal and his well-placed onside kick — which, to be fair, Auburn had a chance to recover.
“I’m basically speechless,” Thompson coach Mark Freeman said after the game. “The way things turned out in the end, the way it happened, is unbelievable.”
Auburn coach Adam Winegarden was … unsurprisingly just as speechless.
“I really can’t put into words how bad this hurts,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. Right now, I’m kind of in shock. The kids are in shock. I’m trying to process the end of the game.”