It all descended into madness in the final minute.
A defensive struggle turned into a mad scramble to the finish, as both Stephenson and Tucker had apparent game-winning touchdowns in the last 21 seconds.
The last one belonged to the Tigers, whose Nekyle Lundie caught a 35-yard Hail Mary from Joseph Farrar with 13 seconds left to give them a wild 31-28 win.
The Class AAAAA No. 1-ranked Tigers looked done when Stephenson tight end Ari Werts caught a touchdown pass with 21 seconds left to give the Jaguars a 28-24 lead.
But the Tigers (6-0, 5-0 in Region 6) caught Stephenson’s squib kick after an excessive celebration penalty all the way up at the Jaguars’ 35, and they had a shot.
Farrar rolled to his left and heaved it toward the end zone, where several Tigers had gathered. The ball went over the outstretched hand of a Stephenson defender and landed cleanly in Lundie’s arms for his second touchdown of the game.
Werts’ play was just as dramatic.
The No. 2-ranked Jaguars (5-1, 4-1) also looked beaten as the clock ticked past the 30-second mark of the fourth, but Giovanni Weekly heaved a pass for Werts.
The big man leaped and caught it over the smaller defensive back, then ran the final few yards and stretched into the end zone to score what looked like the winning touchdown.
He nearly got pulled down short, but he needed every inch of his 6-5 frame to catch the ball and then to break the plane.
Up to the 90-second mark of the second quarter, the defenses not only hadn’t allowed any points, but they really hadn’t come close.
Both offenses had started drives in the opponent’s territory, but neither had even reached the 30-yard line yet, much less the end zone.
That all changed when Tucker’s Duke Shelley caught a low line-drive punt at his own 47 and sprinted untouched down the right sideline for the touchdown to finally put points on the board with 1:22 left in the half.
Surprisingly, though, Stephenson had an answer.
On the second play of the Jaguars’ ensuing drive, quarterback Weekly hit Dexter Neal, who broke some tackles on his way to a 58-yard gain to the Tucker 12. It appeared that Tucker defensive back Dominick Sanders stripped the ball from Neal just before he hit the ground, but he was ruled down by contact.
Three plays later, on third and 8, Weekly connected with tight end Werts for a 10-yard score that sent the teams into the locker room tied at the half.
Stephenson 0 7 7 14 – 28
Tucker 0 7 7 17 – 31
T – Yaquis Shelley 53 punt return (Eric Webber kick)
S – Ari Werts 10 pass from Giovanni Weekly (Wisdom Nzidee kick)
T – Nekyle Lundie 54 pass from Joseph Farrar (Webber kick)
S – Dallas Rivers 48 run (Nzidee kick)
T – Webber 31 FG
S – Rivers 2 run (Nzidee kick)
T – Maurice Williams 12 fumble return (Webber kick)
S – Werts 45 pass from Weekly (Nzidee kick)
T – Lundie 35 pass from Farrar (Webber kick)