Alcoa too much, too early in rout
By Kelly Franklin | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fans unaccustomed to the early 7 p.m. start for the Alcoa Homecoming game strolled into Bill Bailey Stadium with the Tornadoes already blowing through at full speed in a 55-12 beatdown of perennial nemesis Austin-East Friday night.
With the defense dynamiting each Roadrunner possession to hand their offense short fields, the Tornadoes (3-1) scored on their first six possessions.
Alcoa throttled an Austin-East squad (0-4) beset by both injuries and suspensions. The rout avenged last year’s 24-7 loss at A-E in which six turnovers killed the Tornadoes despite a large lead in most all statistics.
Six different Tornadoes tallied in the runaway victory, with Malik Love leading the efficient effort with three scores in his five carries, accounting for 61 of the Tornado total 332 rushing yards in 30 attempts.
Ezekial Koko led all rushers with 108 yards in just five carries — all in the first half — scoring once from one yard out and picking up 53 in his longest effort.
Acknowledging the gaping holes created for him, especially on many counter-trap plays, Koko said, “I give appreciation to the line, I wouldn’t have gotten all those yards without their blocking. They opened up some huge holes.”
The senior tailback, turning closer to full form after losing last season to a preseason knee injury, said “I’m just trying to get back to where I used to be, and I want to be the leading rusher in East Tennessee. It was a good effort tonight, but I can do a lot better.”
Koko and ten other backs combined for the 332 yards, while the defense limited A-E to a total offensive output of just 169 yards, with 109 of those coming on two big plays.
“It’s good to come out here and dominate teams like we used to,” said senior offensive lineman Thomas Loy, who quickly reeled off the names of all his colleagues on the O-line to praise the massive holes opened for Koko and the many other Alcoa backs blasting through for big gains all night.
A-E’s start was as slow as Alcoa’s was fast. Alcoa scored quickly after a long runback by Love on the opening kickoff and a 3-play drive finished off by a Jacquez Tyson plunge to paydirt. The Roadrunners’ first three snaps resulted in lost yardage including straight sacks by Jordan Ferguson and James Hawkins, who finished with three sacks on the night.
That defensive pressure set the tone for most of the night, with little offense and poor punting by the visitors setting up the Tornadoes for short drives on most of their scores. The longest of the night was an 8-play, 66-yard possession opening up the second quarter after they had jumped out 20-0 in the first.
A 7-yard TD reception by Kenny Dean from Peyton Wall and a one-yard bash by Jarod Crenshaw to cap a 5-play, 53-yard drive finished Alcoa’s first half scoring binge.
The AHS points were countered only by the lone A-E bright spot, a 64-yard touchdown jaunt by Devin Williams. With Alcoa up 48-6 at the break, the mercy rule was invoked for the second half, enabling the Alcoa fans to fully enjoy both homecoming festivities and the energetic A-E marching band, clearly the night’s highlight for the visitors.
In the run-dominated effort, Wall still had an efficient night completing 4-of-6 passes with two touchdowns, the second going to Ferguson on a short reception to complete the third TD drive of the first quarter.
“We had a lot of kids touch the ball and do some good things, so that was a good effort,”said Alcoa head coach Gary Rankin.
While not affecting the overall outcome, the Tornadoes did get whistled for ten penalties.
“We’ve got to become more disciplined,” said defensive coordinator Brian Nix. “We had some personal fouls, but some of that is because guys are flying to the ball and I’m OK with that. But we do need to clean some things up like keeping assignments and following our schemes or that kind of thing can cost us in a big game.”
Alcoa travels to Scott County next week in a district 3-AA matchup.