The top two teams in Class AAAAA played a game worthy of their lofty rankings. Nekyle Lundie caught a 35-yard Hail Mary pass from Joseph Farrar with 13 seconds remaining to give top-ranked Tucker a 31-28 victory over No. 2 Stephenson in a wild back-and-forth Region 6-AAAAA game at Hallford Stadium on Friday.
The victory puts Tucker in position to win its third region title in four years and 15th overall, but the Tigers still have two significant hurdles to clear when they close the regular season against probable playoff teams M.L. King and Mays.
Stephenson had taken a 28-24 lead with 21 seconds to play on a 38-yard pass from Giovanni Weekly to Ari Werts, but a penalty for excessive celebration and a short squib kick on the ensuing kickoff gave Tucker the ball at the 35 with the chance to win. There were four touchdowns scored – and four lead changes – in the final 8:52 of the game.
Here are some of the other items of note from Friday’s Class AAAAA games:
- There’s no overlooking McIntosh anymore. The Chiefs improved to 6-0 for the first time in their history and tied the school record for victories in a season by beating Whitewater 35-15. And while it was perhaps easy to be skeptical of the Chiefs’ first five victories, which came against teams that have a combined record of 10-20, there’s no discounting the Whitewater win. The Wildcats came into the game 5-1 and had won all seven previous meetings in the series by at least 27 points. When asked if it was the biggest victory in school history, McIntosh coach Lee Belknap said, “I think so … it may be. We told the guys in the locker room, though, that we don’t want this to be the biggest thing that happens to us this year.”
- Harris County isn’t ready to hand over the crown in Region 1-AAAAA just yet. The Tigers, who came out of nowhere to win their first region championship last season, opened defense of that title with a 31-30 victory over Bainbridge. Harris County scored with 44 seconds remaining, and Taquon Marshall ran in the game-winning two-point conversion. The Tigers’ 5-1 start is the best in school history.
- Richmond Hill beat Effingham County 35-20 to set up a showdown with Ware County next weekend in a game that is likely to determine the Region 3-AAAAA champion. Richmond Hill and Ware County are the only remaining teams that are unbeaten in region play, and the winner will have clear sailing to the title. Ware won 27-24 last year and went on to win the region championship.