BEREA - Before Saturday, Berea Community senior Timmy Thompson had never scored an offensive touchdown in his high school football career.
Against Caverna, the recent receiver-turned-running back, had five.
Thompson was unstoppable as he cruised past Colonel defenders on his way to the end zone and racked up more than 120 rushing yards as the Pirates rolled to a 44-21 win.
The senior had only two rushes for 10 yards through the first two game of the season.
It was a day chock full of firsts for the senior in the Pirates' home opener.
In addition to the numerous touchdowns, it was the first time Thompson had experienced a victory celebration at Duerson Stadium.
The last time the Pirates won a home game was in 2014, when they edged past Jackson County, 27-26.
Thompson was 10-years-old when Berea (3-0) last claimed victory in a home opener (2012).
The win also gives the Pirates a four-games winning streak for the first time in 11 years.
A lot of the program’s recent success can be credited to the coaching staff’s ability to use the weapons wisely they have on the field.
On Saturday, they unleashed Thompson, who had been hiding in plain sight as part of the Berea receiving core.
“We sat down as a staff on Saturday and I said, ‘We’re really stupid as a staff. We have Timmy who is touching the football three or four times because he’s a receiver. He is probably one of our most athletic kids, period. Why are we being so dumb? Let’s put him in a situation where he is going to touch the ball 12 or 15 times a game and see what he can do with it,’” Berea coach Aaron Stepp recalled.
Thompson was undaunted by the task asked of him.
“Stepp came up to me after the game last Friday against Harlan County and said he wanted to put the ball in my hands more. We had a long week, so he put me in the backfield at practice and we ran some plays through me,” Thompson said.
With just five days of practice as a running back, the senior showed what he could on the ground.
As a receiver, the senior had 11 catches for 96 yards in the past two games and a 50 yard interception return for touchdown against Jackson County.
In the backfield, Thompson took over as the team’s leading rusher.
“He makes us look smart,” Stepp said with a laugh. “Sure, he could have fumbled and stumbled, but he’s a senior and he didn’t do that. It was a no-brainer on our part. We went from having a two-headed attack on offense with running and passing the ball we have several options… we added a third head to the rushing attack and now (the other team) has to worry not only about Jaylen Whitaker and Jaiden Cunningham… now we have Thompson on the rushing attack.”
The Pirates took an early 2-0 lead after a Caverna punt put the ball at Berea’s two yard line and a high snap caught the Colonel quarterback off guard and he fell on the ball in the end zone.
After that Thompson took full advantage of the edge.
“We just came out with the mindset to just put them in the dirt. We were ready to go. I was ready to run,” the senior said.
That he did.
Thompson scored his first rushing touchdown ever on a 34-yard carry to put Berea up 9-0 in the first quarter.
The senior evaded tackles and tiptoed down the sideline before carrying the ball across the goal line.
The Colonels made up for their early gaffe on their next drive and Mark Webb scored a 70-yard rushing touchdown to make it 9-7.
On the Pirates next possession they turned it over and Caverna capitalized.
The Colonels connected on 40-yard touchdown pass and took a 13-9 lead over Berea to end the first quarter on top.
The second quarter was all Pirates.
Forced to take over at their own 10 yard line, the senior showed off his athleticism and gained huge ground for a first down by slipping two tackles before being pushed out at the 20-yard line.
The Pirate offensive line then made a path for Thompson to score his second touchdown and retake the lead, 16-13.
After Caverna turned it over, Thompson found the end zone once again minutes later.
Berea quarterback Jaylen Whitaker closed out the first half on a high note when he scrambled out of the pocket and connected with Will Brennan on an 11-yard touchdown pass to put Berea ahead 30-13 at halftime.
The Pirates continued to dominated in the third quarter thanks to a 35-yard rushing touchdown from Thompson.
The senior also got Berea the two-point conversion to expand the Pirate’s lead to 38-13.
However, Caverna refused to go away and scored on their first drive of the fourth quarter and got their on two point conversion to make it 38-21.
Thompson and Pirates answered again.
With five minutes left on the clock, Thompson scored his fifth touchdown when he exploded out of the backfield for a 25 yard carry.
The senior wasn’t done yet, though.
As Caverna edged closer and came into the red zone with a minute left to score, Thompson intercepted a possible touchdown pass to prevent the Colonels from scoring.
“I wanted us to have the last say,” Thompson said of the final play of the game. “It feels good to win and I think the winning streak is going to continue. I think this team this year is smarter and more physical than we’ve been in the past.”
Stepp said he was proud the Pirates had reclaimed their field.
“It was a great day and to think our senior have never won on this field. Many of our seniors had never won in Madison County, even at Farristown, and to do it with more than 1,000 people watching and cheering is special. I told them after the game that they have earned it and have reclaimed their field. We are going to keep working. We are just going to keep waving the banner and see what happens,” the coach said.
The Pirates will look to repeat Saturday’s success when they take on Jenkins next Friday at home.