They say strange things happen when the moon is full. But there was nothing strange about Tucker’s 38-0 manhandling of DeKalb County rival Stephenson, Friday night at James R. Hallford Stadium in Decatur.
Simply put, on Senior Night, Tucker (9-1, 7-0) was too big, too strong and too fast for a tough Stephenson (7-3, 6-1) squad that came into the game with the same undefeated record in Region 4-AAAAAA. By the end of the night, Tucker had claimed its seventh region title in the past 11 seasons. The Tigers have now defeated Stephenson 69-0 in the last two meetings between the two schools.
It appeared as if the game might be competitive after Tucker’s first possession. The Tigers dug into their bag of tricks on the first play of the game, running a reverse pass thrown by receiver Josh Vann to Isaiah Dunson for a big gain inside the Stephenson 20-yard line. But the Jaguars defense stiffened and got help from two Tucker penalties, and the Tigers had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Kyle Wright to take a 3-0 lead.
But that was as close as the game would be all night. Stephenson went three-and-out on its first possession. Tucker took over on a short field and needed just five plays to score as David Davis Jr. ran in from the 5-yards out to push the lead to 10-0. After the Tucker defense produced another three-and-out, Tyler Hughey dashed 41 yards for another touchdown with just 55 seconds left in the first quarter, and the Tiger lead swelled to 17-0.
Stephenson, which played hard all night, caught a break midway through the second quarter when the Jaguars recovered a fumbled snap at their 45-yard line – their best field position of the game. But Tucker’s defense – led by seniors Michael Harris, Malachi Buckner and Antonio Showers Jr., along with junior Derrick McLendon – muscled up once again to smother the Stephenson drive.
Tucker took over after a touchback on a punt, and drove 80 yards for a touchdown, courtesy of a 47 yard pass from Travon Ford to Davis, to give the Tigers a 24-0 lead at the half.
Stephenson came put together its best drive of the game on the first possession of the third quarter. Tough, physical running by sophomore Deondre Jackson, coupled with three penalties on Tucker, moved the ball inside the Tucker 25-yard line. But once again, the march fizzled and the Tigers took over on downs at their 23-yard line. On the first play of their offensive possession, lightning-quick scatback Toro Taylor took an inside trap, shook two defenders, cut to the middle of the field and outran the Stephenson secondary for a 77-yard touchdown run.
Vaugh capped the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, which was played with a running clock.
Stephenson 0 0 0 0 0
Tucker 17 7 7 7 38
T – Kyle Wright 32 fg
T – David Davis Jr. 5 run (Wright kick)
T – Tyler Hughey 41 run (Wright kick)
T – Davis 47 pass from Travon Ford (Wright kick)
T – Toro Taylor 77 run (Wright kick)
T – Gerry Vaughn 2 run (Wright kick)