LMS Tigers outlast Eagles, grab pass late to protect win
The Lewisburg Middle School Tigers, coming off a big win over West Wilson on Thursday, traveled to Harris Middle School in Shelbyville on Tuesday where they had the football six times on offense, while the Eagles possessed the ball 10 times.
Harris outgained LMS 133 yards to 74, but in the scheme of winning football, the Tigers won the turnover and special team's battles which directly led to a 12-8 victory.
Bookend big plays were the difference in win as the game began with an 80-yard kickoff return by Javarria Rucker and ended on a Canelius Turner interception in the Harris end zone.
"You need those kind of games, but it wears on your nerves," LMS coach Eliot Cook said. "It's great we stayed in it, kept fighting and found a way to make that big play to win it."
Two first quarter Harris possessions were stopped on fumble recoveries by Turner and Keylin Talley.
The Tigers were forced to punt on their first two possessions of the game, but still held a 6-0 lead after the end of the quarter on Rucker's return.
Harris was in the middle of a drive as the second period began with the Eagles deep in LMS territory at the 6-yard line.
Four plays later, Malik Lottie scored on a 4-yard run and quarterback Slayde Simmons added the 2-point conversion run, putting the Eagles in front 8-6 with 6:03 remaining in the first half.
Lewisburg took the ensuing kickoff to the 48-yard line where Rucker busted a big run to the Harris 23.
On a fourth-and-2 play, LMS quarterback Christian Stacey found a wide open Andrew Gold, who scooted 22 yards for a touchdown.
After a missed 2-point pass play, LMS held a 12-8 lead.
"We took the momentum out of the gate, but we have to find a way to put more (points) on the board," Cook said. "Especially, we have to find a way to get those two-point conversions that could've hurt us."
The Eagles were determined to score before the first half ended, driving to the LMS 7, but the Tigers dug in and a fourth down incompletion ended the half.
Harris' first possession of the second half ended badly when Talley sacked Simmons in the backfield on a fourth-and-11 play.
LMS used a lot of time on its next drive, giving the ball back to Harris with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter.
The quarter ended with a ruckus as one player from each team were ejected for fighting.
Harris put together another drive, but once again an incompletion on fourth down gave the ball back to Lewisburg with 5:48 left in the game.
The Tigers couldn't run out the clock and gave the ball back to the Eagles for one final drive, and it was a good one.
Harris drove the ball to the LMS 8, but three crucial penalties stymied the threat. The Eagles had the ball on a second-and-goal from the 17 with 12.4 second left when Turner came up with the game-clinching interception.
"We still have stuff to improve on. These guys just keep coming to work, they want to win," Cook said. "Last year was 'The' team, but they want to prove people wrong."
The Tigers (2-1) play again at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday against Tullahoma.
"We lost that first one which was a conference game, but we lost a conference game last year and still won the championship," the coach said. "It's still out there for the taking."
LMS 6 6 0 0-12
Harris 0 8 0 0- 8
L--Javarria Rucker 80 kickoff return (run failed), 7:45.
H--Malik Lottie 4 run (Slayde Simmons run), 6:03.
L--Andrew Gold 22 pass from Christian Stacey (pass failed), 3:13.
First Downs 2 11
Rushes-yards 12-52 30-98
Passing yards 22 35
Comp-Att. 1-7-0 4-10-1
Fumbles lost 0-0 3-2