Blount Press Row

Quantum Football

Tornadoes dominate all phases in routing McMinn County

IMG_0808Alcoa’s Jaquez Tyson finds the end zone through a swarm of Cherokees. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

According to Annie Savoy, “It’s all a question of quantum physics, molecular attraction, and timing.”

Tornado linebacker Jake Warwick closes on McMinn County's Corbin Powers.

Tornado linebacker Jake Warwick closes on McMinn County’s Corbin Powers.

That, or too much Jaquez Tyson.

Many things, Savoy’s memorable line from the movie “Bull Durham” included, work as a plausible explanation for Alcoa’s 42-10 rout of McMinn County Friday night at Goddard Field.

Tyson ran for 143 yards on six carries in the opening half, scoring on runs of 80, 26 and 8 yards, respectively.

The All-State back, with representatives from Tennessee Tech in town for a look, also caught two passes for 58 yards, Tyson finishing his evening midway through the third with eight carries for 163 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

With flanker Braxton Dockery carrying twice for 68 yards and a score, the defending state champion Tornadoes (3-1) rolled to a 35-3 lead at the half.

Alcoa center Andrew Pierce was a wrecking ball in the middle of the Cherokee defense; couldn’t help but notice.

“We were a little rusty on some things early,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said, “but we blocked well up front and our quarterbacks played well, both of them.”

Defensive back Caleb Woody makes the stick.

Defensive back Caleb Woody makes the stick.

As a team, Alcoa amassed 253 yards on 16 rushes at the half. The bigger story is what the Tornado defense allowed the Cherokees: 13 carries, 1 yard.

As dominant as Tyson, Dockery, Pierce and the rest had proven on offense, linebackers Jake Warwick and Keller Maples and the McClurg twins, end Matthew and linebacker Mitchell, were perhaps more so on defense.

Mitchell McClurg, also the Tornado quarterback, made one of the game’s biggest stops when first the Cherokees had the ball.

Tyson slipped around right end and floored it to run 80 yards for a 7-0 Alcoa lead on the game’s first possession. The Cherokees came tearing back, moving to fourth-and-7 at the Alcoa 40 on the ensuing series.

With McMinn County going on fourth down, Mitchell raced in to throw Cherokee quarterback Corbin Powers for a loss.

Playing a more prominent role on defense is to his liking, Mitchell said, Matthew’s help there a big plus.

“It’s fun to get to chase somebody else for a change,” he said. “(Matthew) says something stupid to make me laugh, and I’m ready to go.”

Mitchell McClurg carries for the Tornadoes at quarterback.

Mitchell McClurg carries for the Tornadoes at quarterback.

Works for Mathew as well.

“I look over and there’s my brother,” he said, “right where he needs to be.”

With the Cherokees unable to convert on their opening drive, the Tornadoes wasted no time raising the stakes. Dockery took a flanker reverse and danced 64 yards through the McMinn County defense for a 14-0 Alcoa lead with six minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Cherokees got a Liam O’Malley 36-yard field goal on their next possession. The Tornadoes answered with a 26-yard Tyson touchdown scamper to widen the lead to 21-3 on four plays.

Tyson accounted for all 81 yards on the drive, including three rushes and an electrifying, shake-and-bake run with a pass from backup quarterback Jaylen Myers.

“That’s what we’re taught,” Tyson said, “relentless effort.”

Mitchell McClurg put some offense with this defense soon after, running 21 yards to open the Alcoa lead to 28-3 with 11 minutes yet to play in the half. Tyson ran 7 yards for the 35-3 halftime margin.

Tyson crashed in from a yard away with seven minutes to play in the third to end the night for the Alcoa starters. Afterward, last season’s BlueCross Bowl most valuable player spoke highly of new backfield mate Malik Salter, a sophomore making his first varsity start.

“He showed up and played his heart out,” Tyson said. “Malik made a lot of the blocks that sprung runs for me.”

Salter enjoyed an impressive debut, carrying five times for 50 yards, part of a 341-yard effort from the Tornadoes on the ground on the night.

Dimiese Bradley’s 2-yard run brought McMinn County within the final margin late in the fourth.

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