Taking back the title: Alcoa conversions put CAK behind eight ball
By David Cobb | (email@example.com)
Alcoa bled the clock. CAK used quick-strike, pass-heavy drives. Alcoa ran for four scores. The CAK Warriors threw for four scores.
But it was what happened after those touchdowns that allowed the Tornadoes to prevail 31-28 Thursday at Bill Bailey Stadium to win the District 4-AA championship against a CAK team that both knocked them out of the playoffs and ended a 12-game streak to Alcoa a year ago in the regular season.
Alcoa (9-1, 5-0 District 4-AA) converted on a trio of two-point conversions in the first half, putting the visiting Warriors behind the eight ball in a game that for the last eight years has decided the eventual winner of the 3A state championship and home field for the eventual playoff rematches.
“We went for two for a reason,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said.
Nodding to the scoreboard located on the other side of a field littered with jubilant Alcoa faithful, an obviously relieved Rankin continued.
“We did all our two point plays early for a reason,” Rankin said, “and look up at the scoreboard. That was the difference.”
Alcoa received the opening kickoff and ate over half the first quarter clock before Peyton Wall took a quarterback draw to the house to open the scoring.
As the TV timeout from My-VLT 2’s broadcast wore on, the CAK faithful began chanting for their quarterback, Charlie High.
He didn’t disappoint.
The senior gunslinger completed his first eight passes, including five consecutively on a five play opening drive that gashed the Tornado defense.
After the third of his four touchdowns brought CAK within 24-21 early in the third, that Tornado defense was thrown a curve ball.
A successful onside kick gave the Warriors possession for the second time in the half before Alcoa ever took a snap.
High looked poised to put CAK (9-1, 4-1) ahead before a holding penalty negated a third down conversion.
But Alcoa could do nothing with its only possession of the third.
On CAK’s next possession, penalties made the difference again. This time it was a series of pass interference calls.
On the first play of the fourth, High found David Howell over the middle to give the visitors their only lead of the game at 28-24.
Despite going over a quarter with just one offensive possession, Wall didn’t panic.
“We had offensive linemen yelling,” Wall said. “I was getting frustrated too, but we knew once we got out there what we had to do.”
On a drive that began with a negative 13 yard botched pitch play, Wall was able, with the help of a converted fake punt from the quarterback/punter, to direct Alcoa on the game-clinching drive.
Sophomore running back Jaquez Tyson punched it in from four yards out. This time a one-point conversion to make the score 31-28 would suffice for Rankin.
Tyson finished with 10 carries for 83 yards, nearly equaling Ezekial Koko’s 84 yards on 14 rushes.
After a failed fourth conversion by CAK in Alcoa territory, it was Tyson’s 18 yard, defender-shedding haul down the home sideline that forced CAK to burn its remaining timeouts and sealed the deal for Alcoa.
“When I touch the ball,” Tyson said, “my goal is to get to the end zone so I think that’s what I was doing.”
“He’s a beast,” Wall said. “He’s just a beast. He showed up big.
The win secured Alcoa home field advantage in TSSAA playoffs that begin next week.
Wall went 10-11 on the night for 130 yards.
“We know we’re going to see them again,” the junior quarterback said. “We’re excited because they’re coming back here.
Alcoa and CAK now await the TSSAA seedings for the playoffs that will released at 11 a.m. Saturday morning.