Coffee 14, Tucker 3

Quarterback Wade Sumner gave Coffee a lead on the third play from scrimmage and then helped put the game away with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, leading the Trojans to a 14-3 victory over top-ranked Tucker in the Class AAAAAA semifinals Friday at Adams Stadium.

The victory put Coffee (10-3), which began its football program in 1970, in the state championship game for the first time in school history. The Trojans will play at 8 p.m. Friday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Region 1 rival Lee County, which rallied for a 42-38 victory over Glynn Academy in the other semifinal. Coffee lost to Lee County 23-7 in the regular-season finale in a game the decided the region championship.

Tucker, which lost to Region 1’s Valdosta in the championship game last season, finished the year 12-2.

For the third consecutive game, Tucker dug itself an early hole. But unlike Northside-Warner Robins and Allatoona the past two weeks, Coffee never let the Tigers escape.

Sumner finished with a game-high 72 yards rushing on 18 carries and was 10-of-14 passing for 118 yards. The Trojans had to rely on him perhaps more than usual because their top two running backs, Jameson Gaskin and Marquavious Jefferson, suffered injuries in a quarterfinal victory over Alpharetta last week. Gaskin was “not up to par,” according to Trojans coach Robby Pruitt, but he did run for 44 yards on 14 carries. Jefferson did not play.

Coffee finished with 262 yards of total offense (144 rushing, 118 passing). Tucker had 150 yards rushing and 129 passing. No Tiger rushed for more than quarterback Travon Ford’s 45 yards on nine carries. Tucker came into the game averaging 270.7 yards rushing.

The Tigers had not been held to less than 20 points in any game this season, and the three points were their fewest since a 26-0 loss to Southwest DeKalb in 2009.

“Our defense played the run real well,” Pruitt said. “That’s what [Tucker] kind of makes a living on. Our defensive front’s been pretty strong all year. That was just a great team effort defensively. Our defense has just played the run real well all year long. We’ve just got to keep on getting better. That’s been our cry to them all year long.”

Coffee took a lead it would never relinquish less than two minutes into the game. The Trojans got the ball at the Tucker 16-yard line when Azi Johnson recovered Tucker’s fumble on the opening kickoff. Sumner threw a 7-yard pass to Milton Jackson, then had runs of 4 and 5 yards to make it 7-0 with 10:45 remaining in the first quarter.

Coffee got into Tucker territory on each of its final three possessions of the first half, but the Trojans were forced to punt twice and Tucker’s Travon Flowers intercepted a pass at the Tucker 13.

Tucker had its chances, as well, but was unable to take advantage of three of its four trips into Coffee territory. The Tigers lost a fumble at the Coffee 22 midway through the second quarter, missed a 33-yard field goal in the third, and had a pass intercepted by Jarquavious Jefferson at the 9-yard line late in the game.

The missed field goal turned out to be a critical turning point, because the Trojans took the ball at their 20 and went on a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock. Sumner’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Dawson gave the Trojans a 14-3 lead with 9:33 remaining in the game.

Tucker had the ball two more times but managed just one first down, and Jefferson’s interception put the game away.

Coffee – 7-0-0-7 – 14

Tucker – 0-3-0-0 – 3

First quarter

C -Wade Sumner 5 run (Jose Rodriguez kick)

Second quarter

T – Kyle Wright 27 field goal

Fourth quarter

C – Antonio Dawson 27 pass from Sumner (Rodriguez kick)


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