E.A. Sports Today

Valley Cubs fall short

Alexandria falls in 5A semifinals to region rival Mortimer Jordan in OT, stopped at goal line on final play of regulation

Alexandria players are in various stages of disbelief after falling to Mortimer Jordan in the Class 5A semifinals Friday night.

Alexandria players are in various stages of disbelief after falling to Mortimer Jordan in the Class 5A semifinals Friday night.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The hardest thing for the Alexandria football team to do Friday night was watch Mortimer Jordan celebrate in the middle of its field – especially when the Valley Cubs came so close to winning themselves.

Mortimer Jordan snatched away the Cubs’ dream of reaching the Class 5A title game when it scored on the first play of overtime then stopped the Cubs on four downs to win 42-36 at Lou Scales Stadium.

The Valley Cubs players fell to the ground in despair and left the field in tears knowing they had come so close to taking the program back to the state title game for the first time since winning it in 1997.

They led 36-22 entering the fourth quarter and were snapping for the winning touchdown from the 2 on the final play of regulation.

The Blue Devils stopped Jamal Tucker short of the goal line on that final play, scored a touchdown on the first play of overtime and broke up Luke Tucker’s fourth-down pass on the Valley Cubs’ final play of the season.

“You get that close and don’t score, it’s tough,” Cubs coach Frank Tucker said. “We’ve had a great year, we just happened to come up about a yard short.”

Even in overtime the Valley Cubs looked like they had things going their way. They won the toss and elected to start on defense, but Hunter Bartlett scored Mortimer Jordan’s touchdown on the first play from the 10. The Blue Devils initially scored the conversion, but were called for holding and A.J. Martin broke up the longer retry.

Blue Devils coach Dustan Goode said his team practices the overtime situation just this week and ironically he’s never played an overtime game.

Mortimer Jordan (13-1) will play St. Paul’s (12-2) in the 5A final Thursday at 7 p.m. in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Twice in the second quarter Alexandria denied Mortimer Jordan the end zone after it reached inside the Valley Cubs’ 10, but there was no denying the Blue Devils in the second half. They scored on each of their last four possessions.

Kalin Stringer’s second touchdown of the fourth quarter – and third of the game – and Spencer Brown’s conversion run tied the game with 4:20 to play. The Valley Cubs (11-2) kept the ball the rest of the quarter and appeared on the verge of a last-second victory.

They used their final timeout with 18.2 seconds left facing third down from the 2, leaving no option to spike or stop the clock if they didn’t get in the end zone on that play. They could have summoned Trey Primm to attempt his first field goal this season and still had overtime if he missed, but they put their reputation as a power running team on the line for the win.

“When you average about 400 yards rushing that’s a no-brainer to me,” Frank Tucker said. “I thought we’d get in. I thought it was set up perfect for us to get in, but it didn’t.”

“I felt like there’s no reason for me not to have gotten in there,” Jamal Tucker said. “The ball’s right there in my hands, I should be able to get that touchdown.”

He did get Alexandria’s first four touchdowns – three on runs, including one on fourth-and-1, and one on a pass from Luke Tucker. He rushed for 137 yards in the game. His backfield mate, Keenan Woodruff, was their leading rusher with 173 yards, but he had no touchdowns.

Luke Tucker ran for Alexandria’s other score, a touchdown that gave the Cubs their 36-22 lead.

“I never would’ve thought we’d have made it as far as we did; we fought adversity all season and continued to prosper,” Luke Tucker said. “Everything was clicking tonight, we just can’t get it done in the end, but we played a heck of a game and I couldn’t be any more prouder of these boys.”

Mortimer Jordan 42, Alexandria 36 (OT)

Mortimer Jordan 6 8 8 14 6 — 42
Alexandria 16 6 14 0 0 — 36

MJ – Kalin Stringer 2 run (run failed), 7:28 1Q
A – Jamal Tucker 2 run (Keenan Woodruff run), 7:08 1Q
A – J. Tucker 12 pass from Luke Tucker (Chase Smitherman pass from L. Tucker), 0:41 1Q
MJ – Spencer Brown 1 run (Stringer pass from William Hodges), 10:08 2Q
A – J. Tucker 26 run (run failed), 4:35 2Q
A – J. Tucker 4 run (J. Tucker pass from L. Tucker), 7:26 3Q
MJ – Jacob Dean 25 pass from Hodges (Hodges run), 6:22 3Q
A – L. Tucker 1 run (pass failed), 1:04 3Q
MJ – Stringer 1 run (run failed), 9:43 4Q
MJ – Stringer 2 run (Brown run), 4:20 4Q
MJ – Hunter Bartlett 10 run (pass failed), OT

Team stats MJ Alex
First downs 27 15
Rushes-yds 42-246 49-358
C-A-I 14-26-0 3-5-0
Passing yds 189 56
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Punts-avg 1-25.0 2-28.5
Penalties-yds 4-32 8-70

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