Wildcats survive LMS Tigers' comeback

Friday, September 4, 2015
Javarria Rucker heads to the sidelines during his 64-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

It cost $5 to get in to Preston Hopkins Field Tuesday night and it was worth every penny as Lewisburg Middle School and Tullahoma squared off in a non-conference game that went down to the wire.

"Everybody got their money's worth tonight," LMS coach Eliot Cook said. "We tried to force overtime there, but they got some excitement for sure."

The Wildcats won 42-34, dominating the Tigers for three quarters before LMS made a gallant comeback effort that fell just short.

"Two years ago when Tullahoma came in here it went in to overtime and the score was 62-60 and we won that one," Cook said. "I don't know why we have weird games with them, but we do."

Wildcats explode

After the teams traded touchdowns and miss two-point conversions in the first quarter, Tullahoma exploded for 30 points in the second quarter.

Sam Sanders (84) looks up at the football before grabbing the pigskin after a Tullahoma ballcarrier had the ball knocked out of his grip.

The only touchdown for the Tigers in the second period came on Preston Shelton's 31-yard halfback option pass to Andrew Gold.

Erasing a 22-point halftime deficit wouldn't be easy, especially after the Tigers didn't score in the third quarter.

"We haven't played a spread team like that yet and most middle school teams don't spread it," Cook said. "That was an adjustment. Every team we've played has tried to plug it right up the middle on us, but all of a sudden we were trying to cover these guys running to the boundary."

Sudden change

The LMS defense also didn't give up any third quarter points and things still looked bleak for the Tigers trailing 36-14 with 5:11 remaining in the game.

Javarria Rucker made it 36-20 when he scampered into the Tullahoma end zone less than a minute later to start a run of crazy play.

"We did make some good halftime adjustments," Cook said. "It just took us a little while to get going."

LMS quarterback Christian Stacey went 12-for-21 in the game, including two touchdown passes for the Tigers, who fell 42-34 to Tullahoma Tuesday night at Preston Hopkins Field in Lewisburg.

LMS then recovered an onside kick and turned the big special teams play into points when Rucker put together back-to-back runs to the Wildcats' 2-yard line before Keylin Talley busted in for the score. Christian Stacey tossed the 2-point conversion pass to Gold, making it 36-28.

The Tigers then came up with a defensive stop to force a punt with 2:13 remaining in the game. Rucker took the punt to the house from 64 yards to pull the Tigers to within 36-34.

Last chance

The LMS and Tullahoma lines get ready to bang heads Tuesday night.

The potential tying two-point conversion pass was incomplete, but remarkably Gold recovered another onside kick at the Tullahoma 49-yard line with 1:53 left.

Two plays later, however, the Tigers fumbled the chance away and Tullahoma quarterback Ben Fulton put the cap on the win when he raced 58 yards for a TD with 40 seconds left.

"I wish we would've came back and won it and fixed the mistakes sooner, but they kept fighting which is good, especially for a young team," Cook said.

The Tigers play against at 6:30 p.m. Thursday when they host Dickson County for Homecoming.

"It's not a district loss, so we still control our destiny," the coach added.

Tullahoma 6 30 0 6 -- 42

Lewisburg 6 8 0 20 -- 34

First Quarter

L -- Andrew Gold 9 pass from Christian Stacey (run failed), 6:38.

T -- Brennen Buckner 60 run (run failed), 6:10.

Second Quarter

T -- Ben Fulton 15 run (Buckner pass from Fulton), 7:20.

T -- Kai Johnson 47 run (Fulton run), 3:34.

T -- Buckner 36 run (run failed), 1:22.

L -- Gold 3 pass from Stacey (Talley run ), :47.

T -- Devlin McGee 23 pass from Fulton (Quinton Howard pass from Fulton), 0:00.

Fourth Quarter

L -- Javarria Rucker 18 run (pass failed), 4:15.

L -- TD run (Gold from Stacey), 3:48.

L -- Rucker 64 punt return (pass failed), 1:54.

T -- Fulton 58 run (Buckner run), :40.

Rushing

LMS: Javarria Rucker 11-106; Canelius Turner 1-15; Keylin Talley 3-10; Christian Stacey 4-3; Andrew Gold 1- (-5).

Passing

LMS: Christian Stacey 12-21-92; Preston Shelton 1-1-31.

Receiving

LMS: Gold 6-66-2; Zack Graves 1-31-1; Talley 3-15; Rucker 1-14; Shelton 1-10; A'Ky Howard 1-1.

Turnovers

LMS 6, Tullahoma 5.