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Oh, Malik!

Fullback’s bruising run sets the tone in Tornado romp

Alcoa’s Malik Salter churns through a tackle during the win over William Blount on Friday. Photos by Cindy Nowlin

By Jonathan Perelman
Blount Press Row

Malik Salter takes the handoff towards the right side. He dodges the first would-be tackler and the second. He turns the corner, inside the 10. He lowers the shoulder on a William Blount defender, nearly taking his helmet off at the 5.

First-and-goal Alcoa.

The flag held by senior Austin Porter (98), Alcoa pays tribute to fallen Maryville police officer Kenny Moats. Blount Press Row offers its prayers to the family of officer Moats.

The flag held by senior Austin Porter (98), Alcoa pays tribute to fallen Maryville police officer Kenny Moats. Blount Press Row offers its prayers to the family of officer Moats.

The senior fullback’s late first-half jaunt describes best the Tornado game plan in a 45-7 win over William Blount on Friday night at Goddard Field.

“Our plan was to run it, and that’s what we did,” Salter said.

The Tornadoes (2-0) rushed for 259 yards, employing a bevy of backs, behind an outsized offensive line. Salters paced a trio of at the top with eight carries for 71 yards. Senior transfer Colton Wright had six carries for 65 yards and a touchdown, with Taylen McNear adding five carries for 42 yards and a score.

“Both tailbacks ran hard,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said, “and of course Salter was Salter. I always like to have one of those guys on my team. I’m always looking for that big back who can get the tough yards.”

The Tornadoes spread the wealth against the Governors, tallying a touchdown defensively, one on special teams, two on the ground and two through the air.

Alcoa began the scoring on the second play from scrimmage — on defense. Linebacker Jack Warwick intercepted William Blount quarterback Austin Myrick, returning the one-handed grab 31 yards up the right side for an early 7-0 lead.

Warwick tipped and caught the ball with one hand, his other hand wrapped in a cast.

“I saw it coming,” he said. “I just reached back and tried to tip it up to myself.”

After a couple drives and a Ben Smith 47-yard field goal, Alcoa was back in business with a second-and-short at William Blount’s 27-yard line. With wide receiver Tykee Ogle-Kellogg at 6-foot-5, the whole stadium could’ve guessed where the ball was going. Quarterback Jaylen Myers was picture-perfect with the pass, the towering Ogle-Kellogg coming down in the front corner of the end zone for a 17-0 Alcoa lead with four minutes to play in the opening quarter.

Ben Smith knocks it through from 47 yards. With ease.

William Blount (1-1) had 91 passing yards on the game, the biggest chunk coming on one play on the next drive. Austin Myrick scrambled up the middle and heaved it to senior Isaiah Hannah for 45 yards. Hannah later made a diving catch in the back of the end zone to pull the Governors within 17-7 with seconds to go in the quarter.

William Blount coach Phillip Shadowens credited the Tornadoes for things getting quickly out of hand.

“It was a terrible effort on our part,” he said. “Give credit to Alcoa; they stuck to their game plan.”

A 15-yard touchdown run from Wright and a 4-yard touchdown catch from Austin Porter quickly opened the lead to 31-7 Tornadoes with four minutes to play until halftime. The Salter blast off tackle set up the Porter score.

Wright, a senior, is easing his way back after an injury during preseason. He’s looked impressive his first two outings, including the win in the opener at Webb last week.

Governor quarterback Austin Myrick seldom had time to throw.

“I knew my hard work would get me back and I’m seeing that,” Wright said. “It was nice to be back and win this old rivalry.”

Ogle-Kellogg took the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards to make it 38-7 Alcoa. McNear followed his blockers up the left side for a 31-yard touchdown run and the game’s final score with 10 minutes yet to play in the third.

It’s not who gets the ball on a given play, McNear said.

“For me, it’s not about reps or carries,” he said. “It’s about getting the win. Any of us could start any other place, but we make it work well.”

Offensively, the Governor’s could find little room. William Blount finished with 38 yards rushing. Myrick was under constant pressure each time he dropped back to pass.

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