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Sky Rockets in Flight

Tornadoes light up Scott, advance to quarterfinals

Alcoa senior Colton Wright slips a Scott County tackle en route to one of his two touchdowns on Friday. Photos by Cindy Nowlin

By Kelly Franklin
Blount Press Row

The budget for fireworks at Bill Bailey Stadium might be maxed out before these 2016 Tornadoes are done.

In addition to the pyrotechnics for a rousing pre-game tribute to veterans Friday night, Alcoa’s offense produced eight scores—including a record-setting 99-plus yard TD reception—to keep the fireworks flying in a 55-28 smackdown of the Scott Highlanders in its Class 3A second-round playoff win.

Seniors Austin Porter (98) and Noah Emert (74) lead the captains onto the field in a salute to Veterans Day. Well done.

Seniors Austin Porter (98) and Noah Emert (74) lead the captains onto the field in a salute to Veterans Day. Well done.

The win sets up Alcoa to host a quarterfinal matchup against Elizabethton (11-1) on Friday.

Scott County (8-4) scored three times in the fourth quarter against second and third units and benefited from some spotty play earlier by the Tornadoes (11-1) that made the final score seem closer and prevented the mercy-rule clock from starting sooner or lasting longer.

“We scored a lot of points and played a lot of kids, so that was good,” Alcoa head coach Gary Ranking said, “but we weren’t as clean as we’d like to be. We had over 600 yards of offense, that’s a lot, but we were sloppy a lot in the first half. Our kicking game looked like some middle school.”

Due to an earlier missed extra point, an interception after a long drive and a fumble into the end zone squandering another scoring chance, Alcoa’s lead was one point below the 35 needed to run the clock out early in the fourth quarter.

The play pushing Alcoa past that mark and starting the quick clock—although it ran only briefly before Scott cut the lead back to under 35—was quite the doozy.

Trailing 41-7, Scott finally had a positive play when a punt pinned Alcoa at its own 1-yard line—actually more like the one-foot line.

Walker Russell stepped back on the next snap and threw a long pass down the Scott sideline. DiAndre Johnson, battling for the ball while running neck-and-neck with the Scott defender, juggling it while still in full stride, finally gathered himself while the defender dropped, and racing the remaining 60 yards untouched to set off yet another round of fireworks.

Scott continued to battle, with Hayden Byrge (7 rushes, 123 yards) scoring three times in the final round, but another long Russell TD pass, this one 55 yards to Connor Canfield, was more than enough to keep.

The two long passes from Russell, combined with Colton Wright rushes of 47 and 57 yards and two long receptions from Jalen Myers to Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, helped Alcoa amass 625 total yards, including 324 on 40 rushes and 301 through the air.

Myers finished 8-of-10 with one pick for 127 yards, Russell amassing 174 yards on four completions in five tosses.

The Tornadoes moved out front quickly, moving 80 yards in eight plays with Wright going the last 47 on their opening drive, then striking again before Scott had even run a play from scrimmage.

Mr. Football semifinalist Tykee Ogle-Kellogg pulls in a Tornado touchdown pass.

Mr. Football semifinalist Tykee Ogle-Kellogg pulls in a Tornado touchdown pass.

The Highlanders fumbled the kickoff and Myers lofted a ball the 6-foot-6 Ogle-Kellogg grabbed by leaping over defenders in the back of the end zone for a 14-0 lead with just six minutes of the first quarter gone.

After another grab-and-go from Ogle-Kellogg covering 62 yards, the Scotts rallied behind quarterback Billy Hall, whose shifty scrambling and passing accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total Scott output (89 yards on 25 carries and 79 passing yards, going 10 of 19).

The Highlanders had several productive drives cut short by big Alcoa defensive plays, including six sacks, before finally tallying in the final minute of the second quarter.

“They were hard to put away,” Alcoa defensive coordinator Brian Nix said. “Nine (Hall) is a heck of a player. We gave good pressure and played pretty fast, but there are definitely some places we’ve got to clean up if we want to continue to advance.”

DiAndre Johnson busts a move.

DiAndre Johnson busts a move.

The Tornadoes needed some cleaning on both sides. Myers was intercepted to end one long drive. Wright fumbled into the end zone trying to cap a long run, keeping the halftime score a fairly close 20-7.

Alcoa converted a fourth-down fake punt on its opening drive of the second half, with Russell taking a short snap and passing outside to Larry Hodge, who juked his way to a new set of chains. The gamble paid off with another score on a 1-yard bash from Malik Salter, followed by Myers running for the two-point conversion.

Forcing a rare three-and-out, the Tornadoes put the game out of reach two snaps later on Wright’s second long run, this one of 57 yards, after which the second and third units showed sparks of their own future potential despite giving up two late scores against the Highlander first unit.

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