EVANS,Ga - With his team huddled around him for one final time, head coach Jason Dukes wanted to let each senior know how special they were to not only him but the program and implored the rest of the team.
“I thank each and every one of you for everything you have done for the black and gold. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Dukes. “If a senior meant anything to you, I want you to go up to them and let them know.”
When the huddle broke, multiple players and coaches shared hugs and upbuilding remarks with members of the senior class. This continued on for the next several minutes as many players, with tears streaming down their faces, could not stop hugging as they knew this would be the final time for their senior class.
The Alcovy Tigers (2-8,1-4) fell in a heartbreaking 21-14 loss to the Greenbrier Wolf Pack (2-8,2-3) in a game that only a few big plays separated the two teams.
The Wolfpack got on the board first as quarterback Jackson Fulmer ran it in on a quarterback sneak to give his team the early lead. Fulmer showed the ability and tendency to run all night long, but often had his gains brought back by penalties.
Despite some of his success, the Tigers did a good job, for the most part, of containing Fulmer and not allowing him to kill them with his legs.
After Fulmer’s opening score, the Tigers immediately answered with a score of their own as senior running back Andrae Robinson broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown to knot the game up at seven points.
The Tigers defense returned to the field and all night played solid defense. They did an outstanding job of shutting down the Wolf pack’s passing attack and held Fulmer to just over 100 passing yards. However, Fulmer did burn the Tigers once through the air on a 44-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-7 lead before halftime, and every score ended up being crucial.
The Wolf Pack missed a field goal in the third quarter, and both teams seemed to be stalemated offensively throughout that period. The Tigers and Wolf Pack would head into the final quarter with the Tigers still trailing by just a lone touchdown.
After a plethora of penalties that seemed to stagnate both offenses, the Wolf Pack finally put a drive together that ended in a score late in the fourth quarter. With 6:30 left to play in the game, Wolf Pack running back Kahlil Harris ran it in 14 yards for the touchdown.
The Tigers would quickly respond, and it was Robinson running the ball in again to score from four yards out and trim the Wolf Pack lead to seven again with 3:50 left to play. The Tigers would then hold the Wolf Pack on the ensuing drive and force a punt.
With the ball in their hands and about three minutes left to play, the Tigers would drive down the field and would get just on the edge of the red zone with less than a minute in the ball game. After an incomplete shot to the end zone, the Tigers tried a screen pass to Andrae Robinson, but it was intercepted by Wolf Pack defensive end Fa’Zon Abrams.
With 33.7 seconds left and no timeouts, the Tigers knew that not only the game was over, but their season as well. This led to an outpouring of emotions, and Dukes could only speak about how proud he was of the senior group and the foundation they have put down for this program.
“Any time you’re a head coach coming into taking over the program, you have a group of guys that have been in the program and have gone through some tough times. We have some kids that have worked their tails off and played their hearts out all year,” said Dukes. “I can’t express my gratitude more for my seniors in how they have worked and played for us this year.”
Seeing Dukes take the time to go around and offer kind words and hugs to each senior that was scattered across the field was outstanding and showed how much he cared for this group. Dukes knows that this may be the end for many of these athletes’ football careers at Alcovy, but he still wants to see and hear from them in the future.
“I told them all that each one of them was going to do great things, and it’s not going to just be in football,” said Dukes. “They’re all going to be great men of stature, and I told them not to be strangers and to come back because I want to see that.”
While the Tigers are losing a ton of outstanding athletes, Dukes does remain optimistic for the future and believes the future is bright for his program.
“The future is very, very bright for us, and our kids are going to learn from this,” said Dukes. “I’m very excited for the future of Alcovy football."