Although it didn’t play to its full potential and normal standards, Tucker (12-1) did just enough to advance to the 6A semifinals, earning a 20-12 win against visiting Allatoona (9-4) at Adams Stadium.
The Tigers rallied from a 6-0 deficit at the half and scored only one offensive touchdown to clinch this hard-fought playoff win.
“The defense played solid and kept us in the game. We returned a kick for a touchdown and we blocked a punt. I’m disappointed in how we performed offensively. We have to do a better job of blocking up front - understanding guys are going to be tough and physical. There are four teams left. You have to come out and play at your best,” said Tucker head coach Bryan Lamar.
Points were at a premium in this defensive slugfest.
The blocking schemes from both schools were obliterated by a menacing upfront rush. This led to a punting contest as the teams jockeyed for field position.
Allatoona’s first points came in the second quarter. A muffed punt return by Josh Vann at the 12-yard line put the Buccaneers were within a stone’s throw of the end zone. However, the Tigers’ defense held their ground, forcing Allatoona to settle for a field goal. The visitors split the uprights prior to the half for a 6-0 lead.
Tucker received a boost of energy and confidence when Tyler Hughey took the opening kickoff of the half and dashed through the coverage for a 96-yard touchdown.
“I saw it happen before it happened. I was thinking about it at halftime. It just clicked. Once I scored, I knew we would turn it around,” said Hughey.
Allatoona went three-and-out on the next possession. Tucker continued to build on the momentum when Trevon Flowers blocked and recovered a punt at the 19-yard line. The Tigers failed to reach the end zone and walked away with a field goal.
Tucker's lone touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass from Travon Ford to Isaiah Dunson. The Tigers added to their total with another field goal for a 20-6 score.
Allatoona managed a late touchdown but was unable to secure the onside kick.
“The offense couldn’t capitalize in some situations we had,” said Allatoona head coach Gary Varner. “We had the gameplan. We wanted to keep it close. We thought we had it set up and then the two special teams plays changed the whole game. The kick return and the block. We had everything going the way we wanted until those plays. Every coach says it every year, special teams will kill you, and it was the difference in the game.”
Up next for Tucker, a home date with Coffee High School (9-3) at Adams Stadium with the winner earning a trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the state championship game. The Trojans beat Alpharetta 28-14 in their quarterfinals match.