The odds kept stacking against Tucker in the second half of its game against Marist on Friday.
There were four personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties; the ejection of the Tigers’ starting fullback; a failed fourth-down conversion inches away from the Marist goal line; and a 99-yard Marist drive that gave the War Eagles momentum and a 17-9 lead in the fourth quarter.
But instead of folding, the Tigers scored in the final minutes to tie the game and prevailed 31-24 in double overtime in a crucial Region 6-AAAA matchup. Junior backup fullback Jordan Landry scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard run.
The win snapped a two-game regular-season losing streak against Marist where the Tigers were outscored 70-7.
“Marist has dominated us the past two years in the regular season and our kids were tired of hearing about it,” Tucker coach Franklin Stephens said. “We tried to keep our kids focused after they went ahead. We knew we had enough time to do something and we thought we could flip the momentum.”
Marist’s Gray King scored on a 33-yard run to give the War Eagles a 17-9.
But Tucker took the momentum away on its next possession. Landry scored his first of three touchdowns on a 14-yard run with 4:39 to play. Quarterback Norman Hayes passed to Justin Garrett on the two-point conversion to tie the game.
“We wanted to win the game to be in the driver’s seat [in the region],” Stephens said. “We had trouble with our execution early in the second half but we found a way to win despite the adversity.”
Landry, who rushed for 116 yards all in the second half, scored both of Tucker’s touchdowns in overtime. Landry entered the game in the second half after the ejection of starting fullback Bashr Coles on a personal foul penalty. Tucker sealed the win by stopping Marist on fourth-and-3 at the Tucker 8-yard-line.
“Before the game the coaches told me I better be ready to play,” Landry said. “My phone was ringing and I answered it. The offensive line had it down and Norman did a great job. I couldn’t have gotten in the end zone without my line blocking.”
Landry and Hayes helped the Tigers find their way. The key play in regulation was a 31-yard scramble by Hayes after he appeared to be sacked on fourth-and-3 at the Tigers’ 41-yard-line. Tucker scored four plays later. Hayes again broke tackles to make the game-tying pass on the two-point conversion.
“That fourth down was the play of the game,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “We didn’t tackle well, but they ran hard and gave that extra effort.”
Tucker rushed for more than 250 yards as a team with tailback N’Quan Maggett leading the way with 120 yards. Maggett scored on a 25-yard run in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead.
“They have a lot of weapons and they all did a good job,” Chadwick said of Tucker’s offense. “That’s a fourth-team fullback [Landry] who scored those touchdowns. Gimme a break.”
Landry didn’t waste time making his presence known. He broke a 61-yard run to give Tucker first-and-goal at the Marist 6-yard-line late in the third quarter. But Tucker failed to score, which set up Marist’s long drive to take a 17-9 lead.
The War Eagles seemed to be clicking under the direction of quarterback Andy Perez. The senior had 84 yards rushing and passed for 107 yards. He ran for a touchdown and passed for two other scores.