Fayetteville High School’s Tigers are headed to the Class 1A State Championship game, the first appearance in the program’s young history.
FHS advanced to the state title game with a 38-24 road win over Lake County, the defending 1A state champions.
The Tigers now face a formidable foe in the South Pittsburg Pirates, a perennial powerhouse in 1A football. The two square off for the state title on Friday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. at Tucker Stadium on the campus of Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. Tickets are available through GoFan and the TSSAA website.
Tigers defeat reigning champs
With the support of a crowd of dedicated Tiger fans making the 4-hour plus drive to West Tennessee, FHS jumped out to an early start with special teams making a big play to swing momentum toward the Tigers. After the FHS defense stopped the Falcons and forced a punt, Tiger Aubre Brown blocked the punt, setting up the Tiger offense in great field position for an early score.
Corian Cash hauled in a 29-yard pass from Sam Holdmeyer to put the Tigers on the board. After a failed 2-point conversion, the score stood at 6-0.
The Tigers padded their lead with another first quarter score when KJ Jackson took in a 3-yard TD run. With Isaiah Thomison’s catch from Holdmeyer for the 2-point conversion, the Tigers were on top early, 14-0.
The Falcons struck back quickly, though, scoring on a 74-yard run and successful 2-point conversion in the second quarter to make the score 14-8 in favor of the Tigers.
With the Falcons threatening to score again in the second quarter, the Tiger defense stiffened with a goal-line stand, one of several by the Tiger defense in the playoffs, keeping the hosts out of the endzone. Unfortunately, with the Tigers taking over deep in their own territory, an errant snap resulted in a safety, narrowing the FHS lead to 14-10, where it remained at halftime.
In the third quarter, Jackson scored his second TD of the night, a 45-yard sprint to paydirt. After a failed 2-point conversion attempt, the score remained 20-10.
Tiger Jaterious Derrick got in on the scoring next with a 33-yard reception from Holdmeyer in the same quarter to extend the Tiger lead to 26-10 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt.
Once again, the Falcons struck back quickly, scoring on a 74-yard pass play to bring to score to 26-16 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt.
The Falcons then narrowed the lead to 2 points after connecting on a 32-yard pass and successful 2-point conversion, bringing the score to 26-24.
Despite the Falcons closing in, the Tigers didn’t blink, with Jackson scoring his third TD of the night on a 50-yard burst. The PAT kick was no good, leaving the score at 32-24.
The Tiger defense once again did its job, keeping the Falcons out of the endzone and getting the ball back for the FHS offense, which capitalized with a 9-yard TD run by Aljarea Johnson to close out the scoring for the night. After a failed 2-point conversion attempt, the score was 38-24, where it remained until the final seconds ticked off the clock, and the Tigers secured the win and a trip to the Blue Cross Bowl in Cookeville.
By the numbers
Total Plays: FHS, 64; LC, 62.
Total Yards: FHS, 387; LC, 303.
Passing Yards: FHS, 82; LC, 175. Holdmeyer was 5 of 12 for 82 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Receiving, Cash had 3 catches for 38 yards and 1 TD. Derrick had 1 for 33 yards and 1 TD. Thomison had 1 grab for 11 yards.
Rushing Yards: FHS, 305; LC, 128. Jackson had 20 attempts for 143 yards and 3 TDs. Graham Pace had 8 carries for 92 yards, and Johnson had 8 totes for 80 yards and 1 TD.
First Downs: FHS, 14; LC, 11.
Third Down Efficiency: FHS, 4 of 11; LC, 1 of 9.
Fourth Down Efficiency: FHS, 0 of 4; LC, 1 of 5.
Turnovers: FHS, 1 interception; LC, 2 interceptions.
Tackles: Pace, 9 tackles, 3 assists; Braxton Wilson, 5 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 assists; Brown, 5 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 assist, 1 blocked punt; Cam Sheridan, 5 tackles, 1 assist; Trey Allen, 4 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 assist; Derrick, 3 tackles; Cade Hopkins, 3 tackles, 2 for loss, a sack and 2 assists; Antonio Ibarra, 2 tackles, 1 for loss (sack), 1 assist; Tyler West, 1 tackle, 4 assists; Calvin Hughes, 1 tackle, 1 assist; Cayian Kelso, 1 tackle for loss; Zayshon Pullen, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception; Andre Allen, 1 tackle; Demarion McCrary, 1 tackle; Jackson, 1 interception.