In the end, the arm of Monquavious Johnson was too much.
The senior threw for 188 yards and three touchdowns to lead Class AAAAA No. 2 M.L. King to a 24-17 win over No. 5 Tucker.
The victory clinches the Region 6 title for M.L. King (9-0, 8-0). It’s the Lions’ third consecutive region championship.
The Lions led by just a touchdown late in the third quarter, with Johnson scrambling behind the line and looking downfield.
Suddenly, Romello Shumake broke deep, and Johnson slung it toward the end zone, connecting with the junior for his only catch of the game, and it proved to be the difference.
It was Johnson’s third touchdown strike of the evening, and his second of 42-plus yards. The first of those went to Demarquis Polite-Bray, who finished with five catches for 77 yards and two scores.
On the next Tucker possession, it appeared the Tigers (7-2, 6-2) might go quietly after MLK took a two-touchdown lead.
Tucker was facing a second-and-22 on its own 34-yard line, with quarterback Juwaan Williams facing pressure up the middle. He stood his ground and threw the ball up for grabs to the MLK 21, where Kazim Aminu wrestled it away from a Lions defender to put the Tigers into scoring position.
It just took one play for Williams to take advantage, hitting Dallas Rivers for the touchdown, and it was suddenly back to a one-score game with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Tucker got just one fourth-quarter possession, and MLK was able to run out the final 4:37 when the Tigers handed the ball back to them on downs.
The first half was dominated by the offenses, as both teams had long scoring drives early to set the tone.
M.L. King started it off with a 12-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal. Tucker answered with its own 13-play march, capped off by a Juwaan Williams touchdown run that put the Tigers in front.
The teams traded scores for much of the first half, en route to a 10-10 tie. But they had very different ways of getting there offensively.
While the Lions made their hay through the air – 126 passing vs. 5 rushing – Tucker was just the opposite, amassing 88 of its 102 total yards on the ground.
Tucker senior lineman Ian Rigby was carted off the field with an injury in the third quarter, after lying on the turf for 15 minutes. No more was known on his condition at press time.
T 0 10 7 0 – 17
M 3 7 14 0 – 24
M – Presley Bray 32 FG
T – Juwaan Williams 14 run (Steven Duffy kick)
M – Demarquis Polite-Bray 42 pass from Monquavious Johnson (Bray kick)
T – Duffy 33 FG
M – Polite-Bray 5 pass from Johnson (Bray kick)
M – Romello Shumake 43 pass from Johnson (Bray kick)
T – Dallas Rivers 21 pass from Williams (Duffy kick)