Rashad Tucker, a man in motion all night, made his most dramatic play while standing still in the pocket.
The dual-threat Freeport quarterback delivered a perfect 54-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Jaelin Hood to give the Red Devils a thrilling 26-21 comeback victory over Baldwin on Thursday night in a Nassau I semifinal at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Hood snatched Tucker’s pass in stride and raced down the left sideline to the end zone for Freeport (9-1), which will face Farmingdale next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Hofstra for the Conference I championship.
Tucker rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and completed six passes in 14 attempts for 110 yards. Hood made four catches for 77 yards, and the two seniors made their final connection of the night count the most.
That Freeport had to rally at all was a testament to a remarkable fourth-quarter effort by the Bruins (6-4), who fell behind 20-7 with 4:43 left after Tucker’s electrifying, zig-zagging 53-yard touchdown run.
Norman Wilson hit David Garcia for a 30-yard TD pass on a deep slant and Shirajh Mullen’s extra point made it 20-14.
On the ensuing onside kick, Baldwin’s Kahlil Robbins recovered a ball that bounced off the chest of a Freeport player. Chris Nunez-Sanders (110 yards on eight carries) raced 26 yards on a jet sweep to the Freeport 29, and two plays later, Wilson and Garcia teamed up on another slant for a 28-yard TD that stunned the large Freeport crowd. Mullen’s PAT gave the Bruins a 21-20 lead.
The Red Devils, however, were not stunned. Instead, they quickly regrouped. Hood returned the kickoff 26 yards to the Freeport 46 and later ran under Tucker’s pass for the go-ahead score.
The Bruins did not go down easily. After gaining possession at their 49 after a short kickoff, they made it very uncomfortable for Freeport. Wilson scooted 12 yards and John DeBique (142 yards on 17 carries with one TD) rumbled for 14 more to move the ball to Freeport’s 29 with 30 seconds left.
Wilson and DeBique each gained 7 yards to put the ball at the Freeport 15 with 11 seconds left. After a spike to stop the clock, Wilson scrambled and passed to T’hki Wood-Smith, who was ruled to have been tackled inbounds at the 10, and the clock ran out.