After being held to 61 yards total offense in the first half, Tucker found a way to overcome Southwest DeKalb’s tenacious defense Aug. 25 at Hallford Stadium.
Quarterback Juwaan Williams completed a 3-of-7 passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 40 yards on four carries in the second half as the Tigers beat Southwest 18-7 in the season opener for both teams. Tucker put together its longest drive of the night—11 plays covering five minutes in the second half—culminated by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Josh Dawson on third-and-goal with 8:45 remaining in the game. The score put Tucker ahead by the final margin and Southwest was held without a first down the rest of the way.
“He has the opportunity to be a big-time player,” Tucker coach Franklin Stephens said of Williams. “He had played receiver but we need him at quarterback. This was his first start and he was up against a freakin’ tough defense.”
While the offense struggled to find itself all night, Tucker’s defense was solid with the exception of a couple of plays. The Tigers held Southwest to 128 total yards, including only 44 yards and one first down in the second half.
“I think we did some good things on defense but I thought fatigue set in a little and we had some mental errors and missed tackles,” Stephens said. “Coming in we knew our defense had to create opportunities for our offense and we did that some.”
The Tigers got a field goal in the first quarter, then with 4:43 remaining in the first half scored on an end around pass from Dominic Sanders to Yusef Minor that covered 24 yards for a 9-0 lead.
Southwest’s only touchdown was set up by a fake punt on fourth-and-3 at its own 26-yard-line. Stephan Waite caught the Tigers out of position and ran 22 yards for a first down. Five plays later Toran Davis scored on a 31-yard run with 1:08 before halftime as Southwest closed Tucker’s lead to 9-7.
The Panthers got the ball back immediately as Tucker failed to cover the ensuing kickoff. Southwest recovered at the Tucker 26 and had first-and-10 at the Tucker 15 but turned the ball over on downs with only seconds remaining in the half.
Southwest never threatened in the second half and Tucker added two points when a botched punt attempt led to a safety and an 11-7 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Tucker scored its final touchdown on its next possession to put the game out of reach.
“This was a good win for us,” Stephens said. “Southwest DeKalb is not a bad team. But we’re extremely far behind on offense. We still need to have the right attitude and discipline and start doing things the way we’re supposed to be doing them.”