Alcoa proves Young and restless
By Grant Ramey | (email@example.com)
KNOXVILLE — In a game between two high-powered offenses and two stop-everything defenses, something had to give.
Alcoa didn’t give Friday night at Bob Black Field in Knoxville.
The Tornadoes defense held Fulton’s offense — an offense that averaged over 43 points per game coming into the night — to 128 total yards and a season-low 7 points and Alcoa’s offense rolled up 330 total yards behind quarterback Peyton Wall in a 30-7 Alcoa win.
“It was a physical ball game, it was a war there for a long time,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin, whose team led 3-0 at halftime, said after the game. “(It was) a physical war and I thought our kids kept punching and punching and punching.
“We’ve got some good, hard-nosed kids that will stay in there and fight until it’s over. That’s what we had to do.”
Wall scored twice for Alcoa (8-1, 4-0 District 4-AA), both in the second half, on runs of 1 and 6 yards to lead an Alcoa attack that racked up 244 yards on the ground and dominated the line of scrimmage against a Fulton team that had surrendered just 57 points in its first eight games.
Jaquez Tyson had a 5 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Kenny Dean added an interception returned 17 yards for a score late in the game.
Wall capped a 15 play, 95 yard drive with his 6-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 midway through the third quarter, giving Alcoa a 10-0 lead and taking the life out of Fulton. Wall found Jordan Ferguson for a 21-yard pass on fourth-and-5 to keep the drive alive four plays earlier.
Fulton (7-2, 5-0 Dist. 3-AA) couldn’t respond under relentless pressure from the likes of Braylon Young, James Hawkins and Ferguson on the Alcoa defensive line.
“James Hawkins, little No. 4 that everybody said would never play for us as a freshman has hung around for four years and gotten stronger and quick,” Rankin said. “I’m about as proud of him as I am of any kid I’ve coached in a long, long time.”
Rankin added of Young: “He’s a competitor. He’s strong, he’s quick, he’s fast. He’s as tough as any football player walking around in this state, I’ll promise you that. He’s just got a motor that won’t quit.
“He never gets tired.”
In total, Fulton quarterback Penny Smith lost a total of 45 yards either through sacks or being stopped for negative yards on the run against Alcoa’s ‘never tired’ front seven. Of Fulton’s nine possessions on the night, the Falcons punted four times, turned the ball over on downs three times and surrendered a turnover.
Fulton’s Xavier Hawkins had a 15-yard touchdown run against Alcoa’s second team defense to break the shutout.
“Our (defensive) line has played pretty dominate all year long,” Alcoa defensive coordinator Brian Nix said. “They’ve done a great job.”
Ferguson recovered a Fulton fumble early in the fourth quarter and returned it to the Falcons’ 36 to eventually set up Wall’s 1 yard touchdown plunge, giving Alcoa a 17-0 lead and more than enough cushion.
“We prepare week by week,” Young said of his defense. “We try to just get good reads, get out of blocks and try to dominate every game.”
The late Fulton touchdown accounted for just the 75th point Alcoa has given up through nine games. Of those 75, Maryville scored 42.
“We had a great game today,” Young said. “We played extremely well. We slipped up in the Maryville game a little bit, and they scored quite a few points, but we’re playing great right now.
“We’re playing physical. And I’m looking forward to next week.”
By next week, Young means hated rival CAK, which comes to Alcoa Thursday for a showdown between the two teams tied for first atop the Class 3A state polls.
“We’ve been looking forward to it since they crushed our hearts last year,” Young said. “It was a tough season last year, but we bounced back this year just fine.
“We’re looking forward to it.”