With 2:51 left in the game, North Jackson forced a punt and got the ball close to midfield. On the first play of the drive, Nigel Lanier took the snap and started running left.
At the last minute, he pulled up and hit a wide-open Brady Cunningham who ran into the end zone for what proved to be the game winning score in a 25-21 victory over Class 4A Region 7 foe St. John Paul II Friday at R.D. Hicks Stadium in Stevenson.
North Jackson head coach Chandler Tygard said his team has never practiced that play.
“We just called it in the huddle,” said Tygard. “We had been running corners all night, and we ran a corner post (on that play). We faked counter and pulled three guys, and it’s a hard play on defense. It was a heck of a throw by Nigel.”
The Chiefs (5-3, 4-2) clinched the region’s No. 3 seed with the win and New Hope’s loss to Madison Academy.
The North Jackson defense pitched a shutout in the second half. The SJPII rushing attack gashed North Jackson for 183 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, but the Chiefs allowed only 44 yards of total offense in the second half. Tygard said halftime adjustments were the reason for their success in the second half.
“We put our five biggest guys on the defensive line,” said Tygard. “They followed the Scottsboro plan exactly, and they were hurting us up front. We adjusted to it. Coach (Jamal) Bess did a great job drawing it up.”
Cade Reed and Preston Miller each recovered a fumble for North Jackson. Kilan Summers also made a big interception midway through the fourth quarter.
The game was tied 7-7 after the first quarter, but SJPII led 21-13 at halftime. North Jackson cut the lead to 21-19 at the end of three, and they scored late to win 25-21.
Lanier and Myron Walton led the way on offense for North Jackson. Lanier rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Walton rushed the ball nine times for 45 yards and two touchdowns. Cunningham caught 3 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.