One could do worse Friday night than picking Airport wide receiver-turned-quarterback Josh Tucker as a partner for a game of darts.
After all, the senior was slinging them all night long on the Eagles home field.
Tucker led the hosts to touchdowns on all four drives in the first half en route to a 35-21 win against Swansea to open region play. Tamon Nottingham (two catches, 93 yards) and C.J. Wright (five for 75) were top targets at the Eagles no-huddle attack showed no pause as the rain came down all night.
Not that the man running the show saw it coming.
“Honestly not really,” said Tucker, whose team moved to 6-0 on the season and 1-0 in Regional 5-3A. “But I got the feel for it, and it felt good, and I was tossing it around pretty good.”
The Tigers (2-4, 0-1) were derailed when a hard hit knocked quarterback Chance Walker out in the second quarter. Tailback Quaevon Cannon did yeoman’s work with 155 yards on his 32 carries, but backup passer Effix Miller could only show flashes as his team fell further behind.
The Airport passing game took a hit when starter Brett Burnett was knocked out earlier this season. In theory, putting someone as quick as Tucker back there gave them more of a run-heavy look. But not Friday night, when the conditions seemed geared toward it.
“It helps a lot that you’ve got 4-5 wide receivers that can catch the football,” Airport coach Kirk Burnett said. “We work very hard on the passing game, always have.
“For Josh to do that, because all preseason he was a wide receiver, and for him to come in and throw the football tonight, and we caught the ball well, I thought it helped up in the running game.”
When a hard hit on a quarterback run knocked Swansea’s Chance Walker from the game in the second quarter. The senior came into the game with a hip injury. Swansea scored on two of three drives with Walker and came up empty on its next four possessions.
Josh Tucker, QB Airport: For someone playing out of position, the quick senior was in complete control. He threw for 203 yards and three scores and ran for another with 39 yards.
Tamon Nottingham, WR Airport: True, Nottingham had only two catches to teammate C.J. Wright’s five, but he made them count. Nottingham’s first reception came on third-and-17, where he caught a ball over the middle and broke a tackle for an 83-yard score. His second was a 10-yard touchdown on a perfectly set up wheel route.
7-for-9: Tucker’s passing line in a near-perfect first half. The Eagles scored on four drives of at least 70 yards.
4.46: The yards per carry Airport held the Tigers to. Swansea usually averages more than six and needed to produce more with how the hosts moved the ball.
THEY SAID IT
“He’s so explosive on offense for us. He’s a big-play threat. He’s the one who runs our offense and knows it well. Effix Miller did well. He comes in as a sophomore, first game he’s really playing of varsity football and I thought all things considered, he did a good job for us.” – Chad Leaphart, Swansea coach on losing Walker
“We’ve been able to answer on offense. We’ve complemented each other well on offense and defense and also in the kicking game. … All those three intangibles have worked for us.” – Airport coach Kirk Burnett on pulling away when defense locked in.
HOW THEY SCORED
S — Cannon 7 run (Pena kick), 7:39
A — Tucker 4 run (kick failed), 4:14
S — Cannon 1 run (Pena kick), 0:43
A — Nottingham 83 pass from Tucker (Brooks kick), 11:41
A — Nottingham 10 pass from Tucker (Wright pass from Tucker), 7:07
A — Wright 10 pass from Tucker (Brooks kick), 0:49.6
A — Earl 3 run (Brooks kick), 6:38
S — Cannon 1 run (Pena kick), 6:15
Rushing: S: Cannon 32-155, Walker 7-44, Miller 9-16, Felder 4-26, Houser 1-2, TEAM 1-(-2). Totals: 54-241; A: Earl 16-54, Tucker 13-39, Richardson 7-25, Hairston 1-21, Feaster 1-6, Coles 2-6, TEAM 1-(-2). Totals: 40-149
Passing: S: Miller 5-11-1-32, Walker 2-3-0 23. Totals: 7-14-55; A: Tucker 8-13-0-202.
Receiving: S: Fielder 3-8, Hoffman 2-31, Rish 1-9, Houser 1-7; A: Wright 5-75, Nottingham 2-93, Hairston 1-34