Airport and A.C. Flora combined for 75 points but it was a defensive stand that proved to be the difference in the Eagles’ thrilling 38-37 victory Friday night.
The Falcons scored on a 2-yard run by Donald Gist with 30 seconds remaining to pull within one. They decided to go for win with a two-point conversion, but the middle of the Airport defense stood strong and stopped the run just short.
Airport jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter but watched as A.C. Flora scored 28 unanswered points to take a 28-14 lead early in the third quarter. Both teams blocked punts that were recovered in the end zone for touchdowns. Lane Botkin also returned a punt 68 yards for a score for the Falcons.
Josh Tucker threw two third-quarter touchdown passes – 57 yards to CJ Wright and 15 yards to Anthony Calhoun. Tucker, who started in place of injured starter Brett Burnett, also added a three-yard scoring run. Paxton Brooks kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 38-28 lead.
Airport finishes the non-region part of its schedule with a 5-0 record. A.C. Flora is 3-2 with both losses coming by a point.
The Falcons elected to go for the win instead of overtime after the two-yard run by Gist. They lined up in a Wildcat package and Thomas Hollingsworth was stopped when he took the direct snap and went off the right side of the line.
Josh Tucker: The Airport senior had another outstanding start filling in at quarterback. Tucker ran for 97 yards and a score and was 6-for-8 for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Donald Gist: A.C. Flora senior running back had 105 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
10: Airport had 10 straight consecutive scoreless quarters before A.C. Flora scored 21 in second quarter.
4: A.C. Flora had won four in a row in the series before Friday.
THEY SAID IT
“I was hoping we would fight back because I didn’t want to get run out of here like we have so many times in the past. We fought, played well on defense when we had too. We ran the ball well in the second half. It was a total team win.” – Airport coach Kirk Burnett on coming back from 14 down
“We started the game without two defensive starters and lost two more during the game. We were the walking wounded on defense so we didn’t feel like we could stop anybody. I thought we had momentum. I would probably call it again..” – A.C. Flora coach Reggie Shaw
HOW THEY SCORED
AIR – Rayquan Washington recovered blocked punt in end zone (Paxton Brooks kick) 7:58
AIR – Kerryon Richardson 5 run (Brooks kick) 5:42
ACF – Donald Gist 9 run (Thomas McCutchen kick) 11:03
ACF – Willie Jordan recovered block punt in end zone (McCutchen kick) 9:20
ACF – Lane Botkin 68 punt return (McCutchen kick) 7:11
ACF – Thomas Hollingsworth 32 pass from Brendan Greene (McCutchen kick) 9:00
AIR – CJ Wright 57 pass from Josh Tucker (Brooks kick) 8:05
AIR – Anthony Calhoun 15 pass from Tucker (Brooks kick) 5:21
AIR – Tucker 3 run (Brooks kick) 1:57
AIR – Brooks 24 FG 6:10
ACF – McCutchen 26 FG 1:58
ACF – Gist 2 run (run failed) 0:30
Rushing: A – Josh Tucker 18-97, Jonathon Earl 13-60, Kerryon Richardson 4-16, Zach Feaster 7-30. ACF – Donald Gist 18-105, Clarence Watson 11-50, Brendan Greene 18-50, Thomas Hollingsworth 1-27, Lane Botkin 1-1.
Passing: A – Tucker 6-8-0-125 . ACF – Greene 11-18-0-132.
Receiving: A – CJ Wright 2-68, A. Calhoun 1-15, Osirus Hairston 2-33, Feaster 1-9. ACF – Hollingsworth 3-76, Cam Riley 3-7, Watson 2-8, Gist 2-26, Will Bethea 1-15.