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Wild and Woody

Freshman’s first varsity TD highlights Tornado depth

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Freshman Caleb Woody collects his first touchdown as a Tornado on Thursday. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

Caleb Woody bumped into the right man at the right time Thursday night.

Second-ranked Alcoa was well on the way to a 56-0 thumping of Kingston when the horn sounded ending the third quarter.

As the teams changed ends at Goddard Field, the Tornadoes huddled at the sideline with head coach Gary Rankin. As the huddle broke, Rankin turned and bumped into Woody, the freshman receiver unable get out of his coach’s way.

“I just went out in the huddle at the timeout,” Woody said. “Coach said, ‘What do you play?’

“I said, ‘Split end.’

“He said, ‘Well, get in there.’”

Mr. Opportunity didn’t waste the moment.

On the first snap when play resumed, Woody knifed across the middle to collect a 13-yard toss from freshman quarterback Mitchell McClurg, the grab resulting in Woody’s first varsity touchdown as a Tornado.

It was that kind of night on several fronts as Alcoa (6-1, 3-0 District 4AA) rolled into the off week with an impressive victory.

Ella Sweetland, 3, daughter of Tornado assistant coach David Sweetland, shows her loyalties.

With feature running back Ezekiel Koko resting a sprained thumb, Tornado quarterback Peyton Wall was 9-of-14 passing for 252 yards and a touchdown in the opening half as Alcoa led, 33-0, at the break.

“We weren’t blocking them well up front,” Rankin said. “We’re going to throw it some. We had some drops, but I thought he threw it well again.”

Wall’s night was done after an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Dean midway through the third quarter. McClurg took it from there, adding a 75-yard sprint off left tackle for the final Tornado score with seven minutes to play.

“I said, ‘It’s going to take an eternity to get there. I hope they don’t catch me,’” McClurg said.

“Pretty good for a freshman,” Rankin said, “run one in and throw one.”

Mustafa Anthony makes a spectular, one-handed catch.

The final score withstanding, the Tornadoes got off to a sluggish start on the game’s opening drive, a leaping, one-handed circus catch by receiver Mustafa Anthony a lone bright spot. Alcoa punted soon after.

When a second possession threatened to stall, the Tornadoes went for it on fourth-and-4 at the Kingston 31, tailback Jaquez Tyson completing a halfback pass to a wide open Dean to start the scoring.

“I thought we were a little lethargic,” Rankin said, “so we threw that halfback pass just to charge things up.”

Touchdowns followed on four of the next five Alcoa possessions.

Running back Malik Love took a pass from Wall 49 yards for a 14-0 lead, Love picking up a block from Lonnie Lewis downfield to reach the end zone.

Tyson’s 3-yard run made it 21-0 Tornadoes with 1:21 to play in the first quarter. Backup quarterback Landon Turbyfill scored from a yard away to put the bulge at 27-0 midway through the second.

With the half waning, Rankin called for “3:26, Peggy,” a deep post route named in honor of Tornado trainer Peggy Bratt. Wall didn’t miss, Love collecting the pass, along with a Kingston tackler, deep downfield at the Yellow Jacket 1-yard line.

The Tornado defense limited Kingston to three first downs for the duration.

Tyson provided the halftime margin on a 1-yard run a play later.

While the offensive hummed, the Tornado defense limited Kingston (5-1, 2-1) to one first down and a handful of yards through the first two quarters of play. The Yellow Jackets finished with three first downs for the game as the Tornadoes rolled big on 462 yards of offense.

A Kingston safety, coming when a Yellow Jacket return man fumbled a kickoff into the end zone, capped the scoring.












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