Tucker falls to Valdosta in state title game

A Tucker player kneels in dejection after Tucker lost to Valdosta in the Class 6A title game. Photo by Carla Parker

A Tucker player kneels in dejection after Tucker lost to Valdosta in the Class 6A title game. Photo by Carla Parker

The Tucker Tigers’ only regular season loss came in the Georgia Dome in September in the Corky Kell Classic.

Their only playoff loss also came in the Georgia Dome—in the state title game. The Tigers fell to the Valdosta Wildcats 17-7in the Class AAAAAA title game Dec. 9 at the Dome.

This was the second consecutive championship loss for the team. The Tigers’ last loss came in 2013 to Creekside in the Class AAAAA title game.

Tucker struggled offensively in the first half—accumulating only 86 yards of total offense. Tucker went three-and-out on its opening possession. Valdosta made it look easy on its opening drive—going 79 yards on eight plays. The drive ended with a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Belton to D. Morris, giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.

Tucker’s offense went three-and-out again on its second offensive possession. Valdosta found the end zone again in the first quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Belton to Joseph Ingram, extending Valdosta’s lead to 14-0.

Tucker fans thought their team found some life in the second quarter when Tylen Olgesby picked off Belton’s pass at the 1-yard line. But the Tucker offense could not capitalize on the turnover and went three-and-out again.

Later in the quarter, Valdosta looked as if it was  going to go up 21-0, but receiver Wesley Veal dropped a wide open pass on fourth down and the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs.

Tucker’s offense finally got something going on the following drive—moving the ball 40 yards on nine plays. But the Tigers could not pick up the first down on a fourth down play, giving the Wildcats the ball at their 31-yard line.

The Wildcats extended their lead to 17-0 before halftime on a 44-yard field goal by Davis Baldwin.

The Tigers’ offense teased its fans again in the third quarter, picking up a couple of first downs. However, Xavier Shephard’s pass to Josh Vann was intercepted by Jayce Rodgers in the end zone, ending a promising drive.

Tucker finally found the end zone late in the third quarter. After a 30-yard run down to the 8-yard line by running back Chris Broadwater, he scored on the next play, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to 17-7.

After a couple of good defensive stances by Tucker in the fourth quarter, the offense continued to struggle to get in the end zone. After another positive gain of yards, a fourth down pass from Shephard to Vann was broken up, ending the drive.

Tucker coach Bryan Lamar said after the game that his team didn’t capitalize on some big play opportunities.

“They have a good defense,” he said. “We had opportunities in the passing game, but we missed some throws. We felt like we had some guys open, we felt like we had some opportunities to win. In a big game like this you have to make plays and we didn’t make the plays in the first half. We had some opportunities in the second half but we still missed a couple shots that we had there.”

Tucker finished the game with 262 yards of offense—with 109 of those yards coming from Broadwater. Valdosta had a total of 310 yards on offense.

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