Both were felt Friday night when Alexandria’s extra-point attempt clanged off the right upright, giving Jacksonville a 24-23 double-overtime victory over the Valley Cubs.
With the win, the Golden Eagles (7-2, 5-2) locked up the No. 2 seed in Class 4A, Region 5 and will host a first-round playoff game.
“This region, in my opinion, from top to bottom is the strongest region in the state,” Jacksonville coach Clint Smith said. “From 1 to 8, anybody can beat anybody on any given night. There is so much tradition in this region. There are a lot of people that are used to winning and going into the playoffs.
“We feel like whoever comes out of this region has a good chance to be very competitive in the playoffs, just because of the week-in-week-out struggle that we face playing each other. People refer to it as SEC. We beat each other up, but once we get into the playoffs, it helps playing that competition. We’re excited about that.”
The Valley Cubs (3-6, 3-4) were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
“I was very, very pleased with our kids,” Alexandria coach Frank Tucker said. “They gave everything they had. “They left everything out on the field. Coach Smith did a good job with Jacksonville. It was truly one of those games where neither team deserved to lose.”
With the game knotted 17-17 after regulation, Alexandria’s offense had the first crack. Alton Davis was stuffed for no gain on first down. One play later, Jacksonville’s Payton Sims came up with an interception, giving the Golden Eagles the ball, needing only a field goal to win it.
After two Dominique Thomas runs advanced the ball to the 6-yard line, Jackson Bell’s third-down pass fell incomplete, setting up a 23-yard field goal attempt for Mason Tompkins that was blocked by the Valley Cubs.
Dominique Thomas opened the second overtime with a 10-yard touchdown run, and this time Tompkins’ kick sailed through the uprights, putting the Golden Eagles up 24-17.
The Valley Cubs answered with a 2-yard touchdown run from Deion Thomas, but the celebration ended abruptly when the extra point hit the upright, bringing the game to a close.
“Our kids, I’m telling you, they just wouldn’t quit,” Smith said. “They wouldn’t quit. We get down here and we miss the field goal. We could’ve laid down, but we didn’t. We get the ball back, and we score on the first play.
“I’m just so proud of our seniors and our whole football team for stepping up and making the plays when they had to. It’s just a great feeling. It’s a rivalry game with Alexandria with playoffs on the line, and our kids stepped up.”
Jacksonville jumped out to an early lead after Dominique Thomas burst through a huge hole up the middle and out-ran the Valley Cubs’ defense for a 58-yard touchdown. Tompkins’ extra point gave the Golden Eagles a seven-point lead with 10:47 to go in the first quarter.
The teams exchanged field goals before the break. Marchal made a 37-yarder with 4:13 to go in the first quarter, and Tompkins answered with a 39-yarder as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Alexandria scored on the opening drive of the second half. Quarterback Luke Tucker found Derrik Turner for a 41-yard touchdown pass, knotting the game at 10 with 8:35 to go in the third quarter after a successful Marchal extra point.
The Valley Cubs took a 17-10 lead early in the fourth after a 19-yard touchdown run from Alton Davis.
Jacksonville answered on its next drive with a 15-yard touchdown run from Dominique Thomas, who finished with 173 yards on 27 carries.