Tarrant knocks off Pike County

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 2, 2001

Sports Editor

BRUNDIDGE – Torre Rucker’s five-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter provided the margin of victory as unbeaten Tarrant eliminated Pike County 21-13 from the Class 3A state playoffs.

The Wildcats (14-0) will advance to Birmingham next weekend to play Colbert County in the Class 3A state championship game on Saturday afternoon.

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"They controlled the line of scrimmage better then we did," said PCHS head coach Wayne Grant. "They’re a good team. I knew that coming in and our players knew that coming in. I feel like we lost to a better team.

Torre Rucker was the man for Tarrant in the second half. Down 13-6 at halftime, the Bulldogs came back to tie the game on a Terrill Grey two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

A short kickoff by Pike County started Tarrant off with good field position at its own 38. Torre Rucker then broke off right tackle for a 36 yard run to the Bulldogs’ 26. Terry Rucker carried the ball to 13-yard line and four plays later Torre Rucker scored the go-ahead touchdown.

Jamarcus Jackson added the two-point conversion on a quarterback keeper.

Torre Rucker finished the game with 126 yards as Tarrant rushed for 289 yards in the game.

Pike County marched to the Tarrant 21-yard line, but had to punt when Grey was stopped for a big loss on a pass completion. The Wildcats took over with 7:07 left at their own three-yard line.

Torre Rucker and Jackson went to work, eating up huge chunks of yardage and the clock as well.

The Wildcats marched the ball all the way to the Bulldogs’ three-yard line, before finally turning the ball over on downs with 1:38 left in the game.

Jackson picked off a Chris Nickson deep pass to end the game.

Both the Bulldogs and the Wildcats gave each other good starting field position on special teams as each tried onsides kicks after every score.

"We were real worried about (Pike County’s) ability to make big plays on special teams and the kicking game," Tarrant head coach Will Randolph said. "So we get up there and we’re kicking squib kicks and onside kicks and they’re doing the same thing to us. It had to be the ugliest kicking game in the history of football."

Pike County kicked deep to open the game and Avery Moland made them pay, returning the ball 63 yards to the PCHS 29-yard line. Torre scored his first of three touchdowns in the game on a fourth and goal from the two. Tarrant led 7-0 at 9:23 in the first.

The Bulldogs answered Tarrant’s score. Starting from their own 35, Pike County picked up one first down and then Craig Flowers gained 22 yards to move the ball deep inside Wildcats’ territory. Nickson picked up a first on fourth and five and a pass interference call moved the ball to the seven. Grey scored from four yard’s out, but the PAT was wide by Nick Walker.

A similar call in the third quarter almost cost Tarrant another touchdown as Bulldogs’ wide receiver Joey Spikner was hit just before the ball arrived on a fourth and seven at Tarrant’s 23.

After the penalty, Tarrant’s defense came up with a big play inside the 10 to sack Nickson back at the 17.

On third and goal, Grant called for a three-back formation. Tight end Eddie Meadows broke free toward the endzone, but the pass by Nickson was just overthrown.

"We had some passes open, but we didn’t execute," said Grant. "Either the ball was too high or we didn’t catch it. We knew we were going to have to throw the ball against them. I thought we would have success throwing the ball, but it all comes down to if you throw it you’ve got to catch it."

Ironically, Nick Walker nailed a 35 yard field goal attempt on the next play, but it was nullified because Tarrant was offsides. Walker’s next attempt, from 30 yard’s out, never got off the ground and was snuffed out by the Wildcats.

The Bulldogs were held to just 101 total yards and just 77 rushing.

"We didn’t do a good job controlling them up front," said Grant. "I knew they were real quick and they were getting five and six guys in the backfield."

Torre Rucker’s four yard touchdown run answered the Bulldogs’ opening scoring drive of the game and gave Tarrant the 13-6 lead at the break.

Pike County finishes the year at 10-4.