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CAK Does It Again

Warriors eliminate Tornadoes from postseason for second straight year

Ezekiel Koko gave a valiant effort in defeat in his final game as a Tornado on Friday. Photos by Brandon Shinn

By Tate Russell
Assistant Editor
Blount Press Row

The Tornadoes gained 532 yards of offense, scored 36 points and had two rushers cross the century mark, but

The Tornadoes make their way to the playing field through the crowd on Friday.

early errors were dire as Alcoa fell to Christian Academy of Knoxville, 38-36, ending the Tornadoes playoff run in the third round for the second consecutive year.

“I don’t think there is any doubt we lost the ball game in the second quarter,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “Offensively, it was a total breakdown in poise and execution. We had a touchdown called back and, right there before half, we had a couple bad penalties; they were bad penalties.”

Three times in the second quarter the Tornadoes committed infractions that stalled drives and sent them into the locker room down, 15-8, at half.

The first came as the Tornadoes having gained 60 yards on three plays when Ezekiel Koko took a toss sweep to the 12 but a block in the back forced a first-and-25 from the 31. The distance proved too much to make up and resulted in a turnover on downs.

On the first play of the next Alcoa series, Koko scored on a 31-yard rush but a hold behind the runner brought it back.

The Tornadoes seemed able to recover but a personal foul erased a 14-yard gain by Jaquez Tyson and pushed Alcoa out of the red zone with 35 seconds in the half.

Jaquez Tyson swivels his way through the Warrior defense.

The half ended with quarterback Peyton Wall throwing an interception on fourth-and-21 as time expired.

CAK came out of intermission and drove 73 yards before Charlie High found Davis Howell on a seam route to extend the lead to 22-8.

Howell, who played with his right hand in a cast, was able to manipulate the Tornadoes’ zone and pull in 148 yards receiving and two scores.

Tyson answered with a 4-yard touchdown run that he set up with a 35-yard burst around the left end.

Alcoa backed up CAK on the ensuing series and on a third-and-15. Howell ran a hitch and go and High lofted him the ball. Alcoa safety Mustafa Anthony broke and leaped over Howell for a huge interception.

On the second play of the following Alcoa series, Koko slipped one tackler in the backfield and bolted up the middle and through Warriors defense for a breakaway 92-yard touchdown.

A Tyson two-point conversion tied things at 22.

Malik Love makes the turn for the Tornadoes.

Koko finished with 136 yards rushing on six carries and two total scores in his final game as a Tornado.

Corey Rathbone blasted through the line of scrimmage from a yard to regain the lead for the Warriors. He then took another handoff from High and completed a Tebow-esque jump pass to Howell on the conversion for an eight-point advantage.

Tyson led the next Alcoa series, starting with a 21-yard rush up the middle, followed by a 37-yard rush on which he plowed through the defense and swung loose a defender who had him by the facemask. The sophomore rising star punched it in from 2 yards with 3:37 remaining in the game.

Tyson led Alcoa on the ground with 147 yards on 12 carries and two rushing touchdowns.

High & Co. moved down field quickly. At the 14-yard line, Howell did the rest on a receiver screen, wiggling through the defense to earn his second score.

Alcoa pressured High on the two-point conversion, but the Warrior quarterback found Howell again and pushed the advantage to eight with less than two minutes remaining.

The Tornadoes storm Goddard Field on Friday.

“We had him there on their two-point play,” Rankin said. “We had three guys on him and he moved six inches and put the ball in there.”

High went 30-of-41 passing for 374 yards with three touchdowns and the one interception.

Alcoa had a chance to equalize. Wall fired a strike to Kenny Dean, who pitched to Koko coming out of the backfield.  Koko blew by the Warriors defense for a 57-yard score on the hook-and-lateral.

On the two-point try, the Tornadoes lined up in their goal line set, but the Warriors shot through the line to prevent the conversion and effectively sealing the game with 1:40 left.

“I don’t know, they got some penetration somehow and we didn’t get the look we wanted,” Rankin said. “There was some hesitation on what we wanted to do but we wanted the ball in (Tyson’s) hands and they just stepped up and made a play.”




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