Top-ranked Tucker will be playing for its third state championship in six seasons after knocking off defending champion Gainesville 20-14 in the Class AAAAA semifinals Friday at Hallford Stadium. The Tigers’ opponent will be No. 4 Creekside, which reached the title game for the first time in school history with a 55-10 blowout of No. 2 Kell.
Tucker, which trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter, got the game-winning score on a 6-yard run by Dominick Sanders with 2:22 remaining, capping an 11-play, 53-yard drive. Sanders also had a 33-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter and finished with 127 yards of total offense. Tucker won state titles in 2008 and 2011 and is 23-4 in the playoffs since last missing the postseason in 2006.
Creekside’s 45-point victory was the most-lopsided semifinal since 2006, when Dublin beat Lovett 65-7 in a Class AA game. The Seminoles are trying to become the first Fulton County team to win a state championship since Chattahoochee in 2010 and the first from south Fulton since Palmetto in 1983. Creekside opened in 1990 as a merger of Palmetto and Campbell-Fairburn.
Both teams are 14-0. Their championship will be decided at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Georgia Dome.
Here are some of the other story lines from the Class AAAAA semifinals:
- No repeat for Gainesville: Gainesville was one of two defending champions to lose in the semifinals, along with Eagle’s Landing Christian in the Class A private-school division. The Red Elephants were trying to become the first team to win back-to-back championships in the state’s second-largest classification since Northside-Warner Robins did it in 2006 and 2007.
- End of a stellar career: Gainesville’s loss was the final game in the high school career of quarterback Deshaun Watson, the state’s career leader in passing yardage. Watson threw for 185 yards (unofficially) against Tucker to finish the season with 3,775 yards. His 13,077 career passing yards are 4,014 more than Zach Stanford, the previous record-holder, had for Metter from 2001-04.
- Quick-strike Creekside: The Seminoles had four one-play scoring drives against Kell. Dexter Knox, who rushed for 219 yards, had three of them on runs of 39, 12 and 51 yards. Elliott Berry had the other one on an 80-yard run in the third quarter that was his only carry of the game. Creekside rushed for 438 yards and outgained Kell 462-301.
- No title for Cobb: Kell’s loss, combined with McEachern’s loss to North Gwinnett in Class AAAAAA, means another year without a title for Cobb County. No team from the Cobb County School District has ever won a state championship. The only Cobb team to win a title was Marietta (part of the Marietta City Schools), which won Class AAA in 1967.