Tweedle’s touchdown, game-saving tackle push Tallulah past PCA

Published 12:49 am Saturday, October 30, 2021

The scoreboard said it was second down, but for all intents and purposes it was fourth-and-32 for Porter’s Chapel Academy with one play to keep its season alive.

The Eagles had answered everything Tallulah Academy threw at them to this point, but they still needed one more miracle.

It came up two steps short.

PCA quarterback Jace Riggs was tripped up by Landry Tweedle inside the 5-yard line on a desperation scramble as time expired, and Tallulah escaped with a 44-36 victory in a back-and-forth brawl in the first round of the MAIS Class 2A playoffs on Friday.

“It’s what it’s going to be in a game like this. It comes down to who has the ball last. We had the ball last and we had a chance,” PCA coach Blake Purvis said. “I’m not upset with anything anybody did in that whole series, in the whole fourth quarter. We gave ourselves a chance and that’s all we can do.”

PCA rallied from an early 14-0 deficit and had a chance to be on the right side of what could have been the sixth lead change of the fourth quarter — and the fifth in the last 3 1/2 minutes.

Tweedle scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 13-yard run and Dee Morgan added a two-point conversion run to put Tallulah ahead 44-36 with 24 seconds left. PCA got the ball at its own 41 after the kickoff and Riggs completed two passes to move it to the Tallulah 32-yard line. A deep ball for Willie Rogers was incomplete, leaving time for one last snap with four seconds to go.

“We singled Willie up one-on-one and I told Jace that if the guy left the box and went with Willie, then make a play with your legs,” Purvis said. “And he did. He saw it. He made some great moves. When you get tackled on the 1, man … it’s just what it is.”

Riggs dropped back, then took off when the left side of the line opened up. He easily made it to the 20 before encountering the first defender, shook off a tackle and cut to the right. He got the edge just outside the numbers and cut up the field at the 10, before Tweedle tackled him by the ankles.

Landry Tweedle

Riggs fell forward and stretched the ball out, but was about two yards short of the end zone.

“I was on the other side of the field when he started scrambling. He cut back that way. I made sure I wasn’t going to get blocked and then I took his ankles out,” Tweedle said. “I was thinking I’m about to tackle this dude, and that’s about it.”

Riggs finished with 54 rushing yards, and was 6-of-13 passing for 114 yards and one touchdown. Tyler Washington ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns for PCA.

Washington’s last touchdown was a 9-yarder with 3:17 to go, and he added the two-point conversion run to put PCA ahead 30-28. It was only the first act of a wild finish, though.

On the next play from scrimmage, Tallulah regained the lead on a 70-yard touchdown run by Paul Michael Machen. The conversion was no good, leaving it at at 36-30, and PCA scored two plays later on a 19-yard run by Rogers.

PCA’s conversion also failed, leaving the score tied at 36 with 2:04 remaining.

Tallulah’s Jackson Fontenot returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and Tweedle — who did not carry the ball until the Trojans’ final drive — went 13 yards up the middle for the go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left.

Machen had 268 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, and Morgan had 79 yards and a TD on 14 rushing attempts.

Tweedle finished with 21 yards on two carries, but his two big plays in the final 30 seconds earned the junior a ride on his teammates shoulders as they broke the postgame huddle.

“We started out in heavy and I’m not really in that offense. We spread it out at the end because we didn’t have any time left. They called my number and I delivered,” Tweedle said.

Tallulah (7-4) advanced to the second round to play Manchester Academy (9-1) next week in Yazoo City. The Trojans won 46-30 when they played in September — it is Manchester’s only loss in the past three seasons — but coach Bart Wood was not expecting an easy rematch.

“We get through this war and we’ve got Manchester, and it’s always a war with Manchester,” Wood said. “It’s one week to the next. They’ve beaten me just as much as we’ve beaten them. (The first game) doesn’t mean a thing.”

Porter’s Chapel, meanwhile, had its best season in more than a decade end. The Eagles (6-5) had a winning record and played a home playoff game for the first time since 2008, which remains the last time they won in the postseason.

After 13 years of losing and going toe-to-toe with a perennial power in 8-man football, Purvis was not about to let the loss sour what his team accomplished this season.

“We just went toe-to-toe with the perennial power in 8-man football. They are the flagship or whatever you want to call it. We just took them to the wire,” Purvis said. “For these guys to give this program that boost and that steppingstone going forward, we’ll be forever grateful to these seniors for their leadership and work ethic, and getting our program over the hump.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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