Lance Williams knows what dominance looks like.
The junior lineman, who has offers from some of the country’s top college football programs, recognizes quality ground-and-pound football, and he saw it from Alcoa in its 52-0 blowout of Pigeon Forge during the Class 3A quarterfinals on Friday at Bill Bailey Stadium.
“We just ran it right down their throat,” Williams told The Daily Times. “It’s what we came in to do and we did it. That’s what the game plan was the whole time, and we knew that they’d be ready to play but we just came in here and played our best game.”
The Tornadoes (12-1) rumbled for 362 yards and five touchdowns on the ground against the Tigers (9-3), with all of their rushing scores coming in the first half.
Sophomore Elijah Cannon had touchdown runs of three and 26 yards for Alcoa’s first two scores, getting to the end zone the second time with a bruising run. Senior D.J. Foster followed that up with a 68-yard touchdown scamper down the sideline.
In the second quarter, junior Jordan Harris scored from two yards out, and after a fumble recovery touchdown by Juwelz Scales, senior Isaiah Bryant broke off a 62-yard scoring run to push Alcoa ahead, 42-0, at halftime.
“We blocked well up front, there’s no doubt about that,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “It was probably our best job up front all year. There were certainly some holes there, backs ran well though. We broke some tackles and had some explosive plays. It was a really sharp, well-played first half for us besides a couple penalties.”
“It makes it easier for me too because once I get (tailbacks and quarterbacks) good blocks, they know where to run and go fast and go score that ball,” Williams added.
The Tornadoes have dominated all season, but offensive innovation may have played a part in their rushing success Friday. Alcoa’s offense, which usually relies more on superior talent than novel schemes, utilized several creative ideas to move the ball down the field against Pigeon Forge.
Alcoa often ran a no-huddle, hurry-up attack, including Harris’ 2-yard score. Quarterback Caden Buckles rushed to get under center as the offense lined up in a power formation close to the goal line, and Harris took advantage, bursting through for the Tornadoes’ fourth touchdown run.
“We mix it up a little bit, too,” Rankin said. “We’re just trying to change the tempo a little bit and so some different things. Everything we did worked out fine.”
Alcoa also made use of the Wildcat formation, which consists of a player who typically doesn’t play quarterback taking the snap. Senior wide receiver Major Newman ran the offense several times out of the Wildcat formation, giving the Tigers yet another wrinkle to defend.
“(Newman) has played some quarterback before and he can run,” Rankin said. “He can do some things. He’s the one that we’ve been working. He’s calm back there. Like I said, he’s played a little quarterback before, so it’s not a big deal when he gets back there.”
Alcoa finished with 521 total yards on 40 plays, compared to Pigeon Forge’s measly 84 yards on 31 plays, and it did so despite possessing the ball less. The Tornadoes had the ball for 23 minutes,16 seconds, compared to 24 minutes, 40 seconds for the Tigers.
The offensive line’s dominance mixed with the schematic innovation made for a recipe for success, and Williams was ecstatic as he left Goddard Field and headed to the locker room.
“It feels nice obviously because we won and we got to go to the next round,” Williams said. “We’re just going to get ready for next week and be ready to win that state championship.”