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Hoggard's Thompson shines

Hoggard quarterback Austin Schoenleber runs while South Columbus defenders attempt to tackle him in Tabor City on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Photo by Matt Born)

TABOR CITY | Hoggard's Keevin Thompson waited anxiously for his return to the football field, following an arduous recovery from knee injury that cut short his sophomore season.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back returned in style Friday night with four touchdowns, leading the Vikings to a 34-19 win at South Columbus. He racked up 139 yards on 21 carries in three quarters of work, physical running that helped his team wear down the Stallions in a contest that featured a one-hour, 15-minute lightning delay.

"It's been a long time since I'd played," Thompson said. "I was looking forward to it. Long summer workouts, long two-a-days, so I was ready to play."

Hoggard (1-0) showcased a balanced offensive attack against South Columbus (0-1), with Thompson and junior quarterback Austin Schoenleber providing most of the firepower.

Schoenleber, a Topsail transfer, won a preseason competition to claim the starting job and turned in an efficient performance. He completed nine of 10 passes for 121 yards and also rushed three times for 38 yards.

The Vikings never trailed, taking the lead when Thompson rumbled six yards to the end zone on the first play of the second quarter. The score capped a 10-play drive that featured five passes and five runs.

Using a nifty stutter move to shake the opposing kicker, senior Khalil Soles took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a South Columbus touchdown. It set up Hoggard's emphatic answer via Thompson.

Three plays later, Thompson broke free on the left side for a 14-yard score. Following a South Columbus punt, he added a 16-yard touchdown run and also scored on a 37-yard run straight up the middle in the third quarter, just before the weather sent the teams to their locker rooms for an impromptu break.

South Columbus, which competes in Class 2A, hung tough against its 4A opponent. Senior Quinlan Hammond, in his first season as starter replacing Pharaoh McKever, passed for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior Sammy Dixon made a leaping 20-yard touchdown catch on fourth down late in the first half, and Hammond found senior Reggie Frink behind the defense for a 25-yard score in the fourth quarter.