Blount Press Row

Decker Delivers

Tornado junior’s pick puts the lid on a classic with Heritage
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Alcoa’s Caleb Woody grabs a jersey full of Heritage’s Zach Amburn on Friday. Photos by Brad Gardner

Editor’s note: The first story a writer publishes is one they remember forever, so we made McKenzie wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, it was time to solo. Then, Alcoa and Heritage went and put on a classic in front of her, with touchdowns and big plays all over the place. Then there were computer issues on Saturday. She hung in there, and this, the first McKenzie Sherman byline ever, is the result. (Editor: Well done.)

By McKenzie Sherman
Blount Press Row

Heritage quarterback Dustin Richardson found Hunter Terry open for a lob pass into the end zone. It was 38-35 Alcoa with 10:19 to go in the game.

Alcoa's Jaylen Myers looks to cut back.

Alcoa’s Jaylen Myers looks to cut back.

The Tornadoes responded with two interceptions, both resulting in touchdowns, and Alcoa took control to finish the night with a 52-35 victory Friday at Goddard field.

Alcoa’s Jaquez Tyson had an 8-yard touchdown run following an interception by linebacker Mitchell McClurg, making the score, 45-35, with 6:25 left to play.

Going for it on fourth-and-10 on the next series, the Mountaineers pulled out the flea flicker. An interception returned for a touchdown by Alcoa defensive end Jonathan Decker opened the Tornado lead to the final margin.

“I honestly wasn’t expecting it,” Decker said. “I saw the quarterback and running back turned around so I just went for it.”

The difference in the final minutes was largely due to Tyson, Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said.

“The fourth quarter was our turning point,” he said. “It gave us confidence especially when we kept handing the ball to Tyson. We felt like they couldn’t stop us.”

Alcoa was the first to put up points on the board, even after Heritage’s Prater French recovered a Tornado fumble on the 18-yard line. The Mountaineers were forced to punt three plays later, and George Hooker capitalized on a dropped snap by the Heritage punter, scooping up the ball in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Tornado running back Jaquez Tyson had a huge night of 276 yards and five scores.

Tornado running back Jaquez Tyson had a huge night of 276 yards and five scores.

Tyson soon followed with a 50-yard touchdown run, going on to end the night with 276 rushing yards and scoring five of the Tornado touchdowns. The All-State back added touchdown runs of 6, 10, 4 and 8 yards.

Alcoa kicker Augustine Posada nailed a 29-yard field goal attempt before going in at the half.

It didn’t take long for the Mountaineers to respond. Wide out Devyn Harris answered in seven plays with a touchdown catch from Richardson. Heritage senior Orlando Bledsoe followed with three more Mountaineer touchdowns, on runs of 5, 15 and 56 yards.

Bledsoe finished out the night putting down 104-yards rushing.

Tyson scored three of his five touchdowns in the first half. It staked Alcoa to leads of 14-0 after the first quarter and 31-21 at halftime.

Heritage kept pace during the first half with all three of Bledsoe’s touchdowns coming in the second quarter.

Harris’ touchdown snag came in the third, just after halftime, and gave the Mountaineers momentum to take them into the fourth quarter.

“Playing (Alcoa) at this point in the year we are very proud,” Heritage coach Tim Hammontree said. “They keep playing and they keep scoring. Our boys aren’t afraid to play good football teams.”

Although both coaches noted things that needed to be fixed in practice, both were happy with the way their teams played as the season hits the halfway point.

“There are definitely things that will be fixed and we will work on them, but I was proud of our players for the way they played tonight,” Rankin said.

Both the Tornadoes and the Mountaineers are on the road next week, with Alcoa traveling to Christian Academy of Knoxville and Heritage at the Maryville Rebels.

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