By Robert Wilson

Three-time defending MAIS Class 6A state champion and No. 1 seed Madison-Ridgeland Academy appeared on its way to winning a fourth consecutive state title and led No. 2 seed Jackson Prep 14-0 in the second quarter.

Prep needed a spark to stay in the game.

Senior quarterback Paxton Thompson gave Prep one.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Thompson ran for a 60-yard touchdown with 3 minutes, 18 seconds to play before halftime to cut the MRA lead in half.

Then Thompson completed two touchdown passes in the third quarter – a 41-yarder to senior wide receiver William Laird in the third quarter and a 71-yarder to senior wide receiver Will Upton – to lead Prep to a 21-14 victory to end MRA’s three-year state championship reign Saturday night at Mississippi College’s Robinson-Hale Stadium in Clinton.

Thompson completed 13 of 24 passes for 227 yards and two TDs and ran for the key TD.

For his outstanding performance in the state title game, Thompson has been named the Junction Deli Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week.

Thompson’s key plays helped Prep win its seventh consecutive game and avenge a 26-14 loss to MRA in the regular season. Prep finished with a 12-1 record and won its first state title since 2018 and defeated MRA for the first time in the last five meetings. Prep’s last win over MRA was a 33-27 victory in the 2018 state championship game. MRA had won 20 of its last 21 games and 51 of its last 53 games against MAIS competition before Saturday’s loss.

Thompson finished the season with 2,557 yards, a MAIS-best 31 TDs and only 9 interceptions.

“Paxton made some really big plays Saturday,” first-year Prep coach Doug Goodwin said. “His long touchdown run really got us going. The touchdown run Paxton had called back was really good too as well as the two touchdown throws. So he accounted for three touchdowns and had two others called back. Things didn’t go well early for us, and Paxton did a really good job of not pressing and trying to do too much. He played great for us all year. Paxton bought in early and was eager to learn the system as soon as I got here (Goodwin was a Hall of Fame coach in Alabama and worked at Auburn and Ole Miss before taking the Prep job earlier this year). He’s a smart player. We put a lot of offense in over the course of the season, and he picked it up very well. I feel like he deserves a chance to play in college (Thompson doesn’t have any offers yet) and I hope he gets that chance.”