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Top-ranked Alcoa gets wake up call in spirited playoff opener

Jaquez Tyson pounds the McMinn Central defense on Friday. Photos by Brandon Shinn

By Brandon O’Neal
Staff Writer
Blount Press Row

Alcoa came away with a 28-18 win against the McMinn Central Chargers in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs, but it seemed the top-ranked Tornadoes needed a little motivation.

Ezekiel Koko squeezes through a tight space.

The Chargers were happy to supply the spark, and little negativity went a long way for Alcoa on Friday at Goddard Field.

“I think we have a lot of work to do,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “A lot of it was the coaches fault, but we definitely need to step it up for next week. We gave a lot of people some playing time, so that was a good thing. We just need to be able to execute.”

Alcoa (10-1) hosts Sweetwater (9-2) in next Friday’s second round. The Wildcats eliminated Tyner, 21-20, to advance.

The Tornadoes received the ball to start the game but didn’t have it for long. Two plays in, Mustafa Anthony fumbled after a completed pass to give the Chargers good field position at the Alcoa 45-yard line.

A Landon Turbyfill interception was erased after a roughing-the-passer penalty. Three plays later, the Chargers found themselves on the board with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Levi Holley to Denzel Boyd, McMinn Central up 6-0 with 8:34 left in the first quarter after a missed extra point.

Tornado quarterback Peyton Wall spins to avoid a McMinn Central defender.

The Tornadoes seemed charged after the score and answered quickly.

Starting from its 37-yard line, Alcoa needed four plays, capped with a 5-yard Jaquez Tyson touchdown run.

“Once again I have to thank my offensive line,” Tyson said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere.”

A punt after a four-and-out by the Chargers gave Alcoa the ball at the 43-yard line.  Again the Tornadoes capitalized in four plays.

This time quarterback Peyton Wall kept the ball for a 35-yard touchdown run, putting Alcoa ahead, 14-6, with 3:56 left in the first.

Two quick scores normally takes the wind out of Alcoa opponents, but McMinn Central kept fighting.

A 10-play drive came up short on a fourth down at the Alcoa 19-yard line, but the Chargers weren’t to be counted out just yet.

Tornado senior Alex Soule gets in some work.

The Tornadoes used the stop to take the ball 81 yards in 14 plays and end on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ezekial Koko. Order seemed restored with Alcoa leading, 21-6, at the half.

The half ended on an Austin Wallace missed field goal.

The score at intermission didn’t tell the story very well.

Although Alcoa racked up 233 yards of offense on only two completed passes and 20 rushes, the Tornadoes didn’t seem to be themselves.

McMinn Central tallied only 93 yards. The Chargers had a player ejected for kicking a Tornado in a vulnerable spot.

The second half started well for the Tornadoes.

Alcoa’s offense racking up 93 yards in 11 plays, the drive ending with Tyson’s second rushing touchdown of the night. The Tornado tailback received a pitch right from 8 yards and punched in untouched, opening the lead to 28-6 with 4:28 to play in the third quarter.

Tyson found the end zone twice on Friday.

“It was nice to get another one on the board,” Tyson said. “We didn’t have the same motivation we did against CAK so it was important to score when we could.”

McMinn Central covered the 93 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a 60-yard pass and catch from Holley to Josh Scudder, to close to 28-12 with seven minutes to play.

On the ensuing Alcoa drive, Koko fumbled at the Charger 38-yard line. McMinn Central took advantage of the turnover to go 61 yards to score on a 1-yard pass to Darecio Borden.

Alcoa ran out the clock on the next drive.

Alcoa totaled 372 offensive yards, McMinn Central 242.



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