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Tyson Delivers Knockout

Sophomore back scores game winner as Alcoa takes district crown

Alcoa’s Jaquez Tyson cuts back on a Christian Academy of Knoxville defender during Thursday night’s district championship game. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Brandon O’Neal
Staff Writer
Blount Press Row

This could all happen again in three weeks.

Ezekiel Koko brings down Christian Academy quarterback Charlie High.

In a grind it out kind of game, and top-ranked Alcoa grinded just a little bit harder, outlasting defending state champion Christian Academy of Knoxville, 31-28, in the District 4AA championship game Thursday night at Goddard Field.

The No. 2-ranked Warriors scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Charlie High to Davis Howell with 11:54 remaining in the fourth quarter to lead for the first time in the game.

The Tornadoes (9-1, 5-0) put together a 12-play drive to counter. A Peyton Wall pass to Malik Love on a fake punt on fourth down and a 2-yard touchdown run by Jaquez Tyson got Alcoa the lead back with six minutes left.

The next Christian Academy drive proved the big one.

The Warriors (9-1, 4-1) were driving, and, after a pass interference call against Alcoa, found themselves at the Alcoa 35-yard line. A pass to Corey Rathbone on first down made it second-and-4.

From there, the Tornado defense did something they rarely found themselves doing all night: stopping the pass.

On fourth down, a Warrior receiver looked ready to make the catch. Alcoa defensive back Landon Turbyfill flew in to knock the ball away.

Mustafa Anthony strips a Warrior receiver.

“I was supposed to cover over the top,” Turbyfill said. “So I made the play on the ball and swatted it away.”

Tyson did his best Marshawn Lynch beast mode impression on the ensuing Alcoa drive, pumping forward for an 18-yard run that eventually sealed the game.

“I just saw green on every carry,” Tyson said. “The line made some big holes, so I just ran right through them.”

The first half was definitely a different story. Both teams did damage offensively. Alcoa racked up 254 offensive yards, Christian Academy 213.

Alcoa rushed for combined effort of 181 yards on 21 carries, while Wall tallied 73 yards on 6-of-7 passing.

The Warriors totaled 213 yards of offense in the first half.  High passed for 202 yards on 15 of 22 attempts.

The difference in the first half was two, two-point conversions.

Anthony, left, and Kenny Dean battle in the air for the ball.

The Tornado opening drive went for 62 yards in 12 plays, ending in a Wall rushing touchdown from 11 yards. The two-point conversion run by Love on a jet sweep gave Alcoa an early 8-0 lead.

Christian Academy quickly countered in five plays. High went 5-for-5 passing and threw a strike to Josh Smith down the middle for the score with 4:43 left in the first quarter.

Alcoa came right back with Jarod Crenshaw doing most of the work. Crenshaw rushed four times for 24 yards, leaving Ezekiel Koko to finish it off with an 8-yard touchdown run.

After another two-point conversion, this time a Wall run, Alcoa’s lead was extended 16-7 with a minute to play in the first quarter.

The Warrior offense took the ball 65 yards for a touchdown to get close again. High ran 8 yards for the score, a two-point conversion pulling Christian Academy with 16-15.

Tyson bounced off would-be tacklers on his way to score from ? yards, ending it with a dive into the end zone for a 24-15 Alcoa a 24-15 lead with two minutes left in the half.

“I was proud of Tyson tonight,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “He proved himself out there tonight and got some big yardage for us.”

Jordan Ferguson carries for the Tornadoes.

Christian Academy marched down the field on its opening drive of the second half to score on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rathbone.

Howell’s 18-yard touchdown catch gave the Warriors a 28-24 lead with less than a minute played in the fourth.

Tyson’s second touchdown run of the night came on the ensuing drive from 2 yards out for what proved the final margin.

The Tornadoes ended the night with 253 yards rushing on 37 carries. Wall finished a crisp 10-of-11 passing for 127 yards.

High was 23-of-35 for 279 yards and four touchdowns.


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