MLK 50, Stephenson 49

By Jeff Haws

For the AJC

It was over. But Blake Tibbs wasn’t done.

Tibbs – already with five receiving touchdowns – returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown with 16 seconds left to give MLK a stunning 50-49 win over Stephenson.

The victory gives No. 5 MLK (10-0) the Region 2-AAAAA title. No. 4 Stephenson finished second.

When Mike Davis plunged in from 4 yards out with 29 seconds left, it looked to everyone involved that he had given the Jaguars a 49-44 win, holding off a Lions team that had roared back from deficits of 17 points late in the third quarter and 26 points in the second quarter.

But, despite Tibbs’ reputation coming into the game, despite his 166 receiving yards and five scores, the Jags rolled the dice with a straight-up kick. Tibbs caught it with his foot on the 18-yard line. Nobody touched him.

He flew up the right side of the field, splitting the defenders, making one cut and then outrunning the kicker down the sideline into the end zone, as much of the MLK bench stormed toward the field.

It was the third “ending” of the game in the final 3:32 – first with the Lions completing a wild comeback to take a 44-43 lead, then Davis’s touchdown run, followed by Tibbs. Each score looked like the winner when it happened. Only Tibbs’ held up.

Stephenson’s final drive started on its own 25-yard line, after the Jaguars had surrendered a 17-point late third-quarter lead to the Lions, who also fought back from 26 down earlier in the first half to take a 44-43 lead.

The Jaguars had thrown the ball far more than usual in this game. But, with the game on the line and time getting short, they stuck to the ground and workhorse Mike Davis.

Davis (39 carries, 212 yards, 2 TD) had 54 of the Jags’ 75 yards on the drive, including the touchdown that could have been the winner.

It would have spoiled what had been a big comeback from the Lions.

MLK trailed 43-26 when Stephenson had to punt with 3:16 left in the third quarter, and it looked like the Jaguars were ready to salt the game away. The Lions had other ideas.

They scored once to cut the lead to 43-32 at the end of the third quarter, then got good field position after a short punt and penalty to convert on fourth and 10 with a 14-yard strike from Dawson (15 of 35 for 296 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT) to Tibbs that made it 43-38 with 8:34 left.

MLK started its final drive at its own 11 with 5:12 left and quickly marched downfield. The Lions got three catches from Tibbs to move the chains, and then Joshua Stanford caught a short pass, made a man miss and went in from 59 yards out to give MLK its first lead of the game.

S 15 21 7 6 – 49

M 12 8 12 18 – 50

M – Andrecas Jackson 1 run (kick failed)

M – Blake Tibbs 20 pass from Jonquel Dawson (pass failed)

S – Demarcus Sweat 38 pass from Justin Holman (kick failed)

S – Carlos Hood safety

S – Mike Davis 18 run (Wisdom Nzidee kick)

S – Holman 1 run (Nzidee kick)

S – Sweat 47 pass from Holman (Nzidee kick)

S – T.J. Moon 11 run (Nzidee kick)

M – Tibbs 5 pass from Dawson (Joshua Stanford pass from Dawson)

M – Tibbs 42 pass from Dawson (pass failed)

S – Josh Parris 33 pass from Holman (Nzidee kick)

M – Tibbs 14 pass from Dawson (pass failed)

M – Stanford 59 pass from Dawson (pass failed)

S – Davis 4 run (pass failed)

M – Tibbs 82 kickoff return (run failed)

162 comments Add your comment

Valdosta-Lowndes Co. (28 State Titles)

November 4th, 2011
11:11 pm

High scoring affair I see… Good game!! Dont expect to see that type of score on a Region 1- 5AAAAA opponent…


November 4th, 2011
11:15 pm

One and done for Stephenson this year I see. At least they tried to live up to their potential.


November 4th, 2011
11:20 pm

Its funny Im going for mlk just becuz I see so many westlake transfers in the game but shout out to mlk

Being out coached is so familiar @ Stephenson

November 4th, 2011
11:26 pm

Enter your comments here


November 4th, 2011
11:32 pm

Shout to Mlk yall boys deserved it

I witness

November 4th, 2011
11:36 pm

This was the best High School football game I have ever seen in person. If Blake Tibbs is not a five star recruit then nobody in the entire country should be. He would not allow his team to loose.


November 4th, 2011
11:42 pm

why did you kick the ball to “Hester” the best punt returner in High School. This really hurt the young men at Stephenson. Coach Cartrel, Why did you play so soft in the third quarter? I hope the boys bounce back.

Cap'n Cavecrunch

November 4th, 2011
11:45 pm

Nice to see one-and-done Stephenson, with all of that D-1 talent, get prepped for another postseason collapse. It’s one thing to lose a game but to blow a 24-point lead to your archrivals, well, you have to dig really deep.

The Jags will be rolling out the basketballs in 3…2….1….


November 4th, 2011
11:49 pm

Can’t wait to see Blake Tibbs in Red and Black…

Dekalb Fan

November 4th, 2011
11:51 pm

Great game by both teams, a lot to learn for both teams from this game. I think this game taught valuable lessons to both teams.

Im just saying

November 4th, 2011
11:58 pm

@westlakefootball from what I’m told MLK got one receiver from you that you all had at safety after a 50+ catch junior year. Keep the back handed shout out and just congratulate 2 good teams from your region and find a new head coach.

Stephenson Football Alum 02

November 5th, 2011
12:05 am

Well played MLK! Great Game! Blake Tibbs was unbelievable, those are the games you dream of! UGA landed a Big Time Player!!!

The Best High School Football Game I’ve ever seen! I truly feel bad for those players and fans. Stephenson deserves better than to have it’s heart broken year after year with such great talent! The Coaches let MLK back into the game and tried to play conservative 3rd quarter. MLK played a perfect 2nd half. Good Luck in the Playoffs.


November 5th, 2011
12:06 am

nice game…both would lose to calhoun.


November 5th, 2011
12:22 am



November 5th, 2011
12:23 am

JAB…………..not going to happen JAB…….your season is over next friday


November 5th, 2011
12:24 am

@ been following Dekalb County football for many years never seen Hallford stadium that packed out before… Congratulations to MLK for out scoring Stephenson in the end… No need to trash talk because both teams played their hearts out. Now let’s go get em region 2AAAAA. :)

rickey mcalpine

November 5th, 2011
12:26 am

Great game by Stephenson and MLK ! Stephenson gets out coach in every game that means something.I”ve been watching this team since 1999, and every year the coaches do something stupid to lose the game for them. They have great talent every year, but they lack solid coaching every year.


November 5th, 2011
12:36 am

THAT WAS THE GREATEST HIGH SCHOOL GAME IVE EVER SEEN!! TIBBS IS FAMILY AND ITS AMAZING TO SEE HIM GROW INTO A GREAT PLAYER! BUT DONT BE MISTAKEN STEPHENSON IS A VERY GOOD TEAM AND LOOK FOR THEM TO BE A STRONG PLAYOFF TEAM.@westlakefootball _ i dont understand why so many players transferd to sandy creek, mlk and etc. whats up with that? westlake has produced many solid nfl players. why do the players keep leaving? even though the good rb stayed.


November 5th, 2011
12:47 am

Amazing game between both teams.


November 5th, 2011
12:49 am

Congrats to MLK! Great Win but we at Stephenson may have the WORST coaching staff in the state! You have got to be kidding me…we are up big at the half and lose! Gartrell WTF were you thinking..They didnt play agressive in the third quarter at all and they made NO ADJUSTMENTS!! MLK has real coaches coaching…they came out after halftime believing they could win, they made the right adjustments, inched there way back in the game and won it. And what is up with the Stephenson special teams they not spot where the key playmakers on the opposing team are on the field?? Why in the heck would you even kick the ball to Tibbs or anywhere around him! Kick it deep to SOMEONE ELSE or do a squib kick..We got beat with 28 dern seconds left..Man this staff has got to get it together..SERIOUSLY!! BAD COACHING ONCE AGAIN COST US THE GAME!!

Stephenson Football Alum 02

November 5th, 2011
12:59 am

@Jaguar Fan! Man it hurts. I’ve been there before. I hope we will recover because this is a very special team! They played their hearts out! If he can’s win state with these guys… I just dont know…
Go Jaguars!!!


November 5th, 2011
1:10 am

Did JAB really just type no need for trash talking? Wow! Congrats to MLK.

Dekalb all the way!!!

November 5th, 2011
1:28 am

I have to admit that that was the best high school game I have ever attended. The football teams, the band, the crowd. Congrats to both teams…they both played their hearts out!!!


November 5th, 2011
1:46 am



November 5th, 2011
2:27 am

I give credit to both schools for putting on a great show. The display of athletic talent on the field was a treat to watch. Both teams have major defensive flaws and special teams issues that will probably end both teams seasons early in the playoffs. But that aside, it was the most exciting game I saw this season. Amazing.


November 5th, 2011
2:28 am

Nice video! How’d that work out??


November 5th, 2011
3:12 am

This game should be shown on sunday with the NFL teams because this was the best high school game i have seen in four years. Great job MLK and Coaches for keeping our boyd focused through out the week. tune in next week – same time- different team – same results.


November 5th, 2011
3:20 am

Greatest High School Football Game I’ve ever seen! What a crazy final 3 minutes! The Stephenson fans sitting on the MLK side seemed to quickly disappear after Tibbs’ kick off return! Great game! Both teams played well…it was worth all the hype! The youtube video was funny, but who is laughing now?


November 5th, 2011
5:48 am

I missed my high school senior night for this game and i must say. This was the best most packed out game I have ever been to!!!!! Both sides were filled to capacity, and it you have seen Halford stadium you know how big it is! The atmosphere was crazy, and the Stephenson & MLK bands made it 10x more exciting. Stephenson and MLK’s school spirit is amazing! It was like a HBCU football game in the stands and D1 on the field! Congrats to MLK football team.

On a side note Stephensons band is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were extremley “crunk” the whole time. They even played the “Stephenson Beef It Up” and the WHOLE stephenson side did the dance. It was hilarious!

Cedar Grove Football

November 5th, 2011
6:14 am

I hate 2 say it….. But MLK & STEPHENSON are the real deal… lost 2 MLK preseason by 1 point. but we wish them the best. Great coaching staff. Stephenson has no coaching alot like our team this yer @ the grove. No disrespect but if our teams were coached all teams in the state would have no chance. IM OUT!!!!!


November 5th, 2011
6:38 am

Other than the game when we (Camden) played Miami Central , this was the best high school game I have ever seen. Great game both teams.


November 5th, 2011
7:35 am

“And A Good Time Was Had By All”


November 5th, 2011
7:55 am

The one thing that jumped out at me in this article ? No mention that Tibbs is a UGA commit. Now if he was a GT or Bama or Auburn or just about anything other than a UGA commit,what are the odds that it would have been mentioned ?


November 5th, 2011
7:56 am

What a great game I see… I’m a Valdosta Wildcat fan and I heard the score at halftime, so I’m shock that the Lions were able to comeback on a running team like Stephenson.. I always felt that Stephenson have the best talent every year but no coaching.. How in the hell u going tokick the ball to Tibbs?


November 5th, 2011
7:56 am

Will Coffee play MLK on Friday night or Saturday? MLK, Region 2, #1 Seed can pick Firday or Saturday, over Stephenson. They play at the same field. Which will it be?


November 5th, 2011
8:19 am

36k+ = number of views of video, 1= points MLK won by, 10 = wins for MLK in 2011…GO LIONS !!!

Reality Check

November 5th, 2011
8:23 am

Lots of talk about how this game was played at the D1 level. Hate to say it, but D1 players can kick extra points and kickoffs go beyond the 18-yard line. What prompts a coach with a weak kicking game to kick a “deep” ball to a guy who has already scored multiple times in the game? Kicking the ball out of bounds and starting things at the 30 would have been a no-brainer with a weak kicking game. The quality of coaching has to be questioned when two D1 prospect factories repeatedly lay eggs in the playoffs.


November 5th, 2011
8:45 am

@Im just saying you stupid there where 4 kids that left to mlk after there freshmen year they juniors now I guest they been there so long they not transfers


November 5th, 2011
8:50 am

As I said at the very beginning of the season…all those college prospects, and Stephenson won’t get past the second round. Have you seen the bracket? No way they get to the third round.


November 5th, 2011
8:55 am

the hommies at MLK keep it trill congrats guys we playing this all night for you guys


November 5th, 2011
8:56 am



November 5th, 2011
8:57 am

Great to see a kid with Georgia Pride come through in the clutch.Good luck the rest of the way MLK !

Just saying

November 5th, 2011
9:03 am

Congrats to both teams for an exciting game. Stephenson has far more talent on the field but the coaching
is their weakness. The coaches did not put the players in position to win. At some point you have to make adjustments and double or triple team Blake Tibbs. If you lose force someone else to step up for MLK. Stephenson, it’s time to look at another coaching staff.

Voice of Reason

November 5th, 2011
9:17 am

MAny of you have answered your own questions, unknowingly. With all of the purported D1 talent ont he field, the last KO SHOULD have been covered. Great athletes make plays…..great teams don’t lose games like this one ended. Congrats to both teams for the entertainment value to those watching. This will be one of those games that when mentioned 15-20 years from now, 100K people will have claimed to have been AT THE GAME.

Results like this is why baseball is still the greatest game in the world, Talent isn’t the most important factor in the game. If a team executes and understands how to play the game, chances are the less talented team will win 80% of the time. It has everything to do with how a coach manages the game.

Jaguar Pride(AMHS Dad)

November 5th, 2011
9:24 am

Kudos to MLK, the players and coaches never gave up. Being a THS grad. c\o ‘87, I’ve seen many wonderful games at Dekalb Memorial Stadium in my day. Last night maybe a top 5; the best played and highest attended has to be a state championship game between SWD, and the Parkview Panthers, man jokers was standing on the track, standing in the woods, standing everywhere. Side note; that SWD QB was the best high school player in the county in the last 30 years.

SWD alum

November 5th, 2011
9:32 am

@Jaguar Pride I was at that state championship game between SWD and Parkview and till this day that is the most people I have ever seen at Memorial…as for last night that was a great game but you have to question the judgement of the Stephenson coaches, there is no WAY you don’t double or triple team that WR. Unbelievable they let him catch 5 TD’s without double/triple coverage

Queen Black

November 5th, 2011
9:38 am

Congratulations to Coach Carson, the MLK coaching staff, and the Mighty Lions Football Team for a job well done.  You all took “I. A.M. K.I.N.G.” to another level.  Not only did you win the game in historical fashion, you have been very poised, dignified, and humble student-athletes.  You are ROYALTY.  Enjoy this victory. But know there is still much work to be done.  Take us to the Dome Lions! 

Goal Oriented

I witness

November 5th, 2011
9:48 am

Thank you CJ Curry for de commiting from UGA and going with Okie State. You opened a spot for Blake Tibbs!!!

Im just saying

November 5th, 2011
9:48 am

@westlakefootball The stupid comment I will let you have. The fact that resorted too that says alot about you. But as for transfer if they left after fresmen Westlake can’t take any credit for their development. That’s all MLK. Heck if MLK would have lost would you have posted that lost with westlake players. Westlake fans and parents do us all a favor and stop playing the victim & making excuses for why you all can’t keep talent in house. You all get D1 athletes cause of location kids were born good. Since your current coaches tender to h#!! with MLK and Stephenson Westlake as been the biggest under acheiving team in Atlanta.


November 5th, 2011
9:51 am

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