RUSK - A game 35 years ln the making actually lived up to its hype.
In an inter-classification rivalary game between southern Cherokee County schools, Alto, representing Class 2A, defeated Class 4A Rusk, 26-21, Friday on Jim Swink Field at Eagle Stadium.
An overflow crowd packed the stadium, with many standing four to five rows deep around the field to witness the highly anticipated clash between the two teams that are only 12 minutes apart.
With Rusk (1-4) leading the see-saw thriller 21-19, Alto quarterback Fred Thacker powered into the end zone from two yards out to score his fourth rushing touchdown of the night.
That score proved to be the game-winning tally for the Yellowjackets, who head into an open date next week with a 4-1 record.
Thacker also scored on runs covering 3, 3 and 4 yards. He finished as the game's leading rusher, carrying 32 times for 215 yards.
Rusk quarterback Jake Hugghins also had a big night as he hurled a pair of touchdown passes. First, he connected with Jonathann Long from 38 yards out in the third quarter. Later in the half, Hugghins dialed up Adrian Morris, who had 13 catches for 132 yards, on what was a 47-yard catch and run.
Rusk had a chance to win the game late, but a turnover doused the Eagles' chances at nailing down a victory on homecoming night.
With 2:00 showing on the clock and having no time outs, Rusk started on its own 31-yard line.
But on the second play of the drive Alto’'s Jared Johnson bolted in off the edge and stripped Hugghins of the ball, with the Jackets’ Emilio Soto falling on it for the visiting team.
With just over a minute left, Alto was able to go to the victory formation to burn up the remaining time on the clock.
Hugghins was 19 of 30 for 214 yards.
Rusk will look to bounce back next week by traveling to Madisonville.