Maryville quarterback Cade Chambers received the MVP trophy after Thursday night’s victory over Alcoa, but he said it didn’t belong to him.
“This is the offensive line’s trophy,” Chambers said to his teammates, who were kneeling on Alcoa’s home field amid swarms of Maryville fans.
After three touchdown-less quarters, Maryville (4-0) cracked the code against Alcoa (3-1). The Rebels kept the ball on the ground for most of their final two possessions. They found the end zone on both drives for a 17-3 victory.
It was personal for the Rebels, who fell to Alcoa 34-28 at home last season. That loss snapped a seven-game winning streak against the Tornadoes.
“The whole ordeal after the game last year was how good Alcoa’s D-line was,” Chambers said. “We put it on ourselves this year that we were going to do what they did to us last year and drive it down their throat.”
As a 6A program, Maryville has always enjoyed a numbers advantage over the 3A powerhouse, which has won four straight state championships. Some Tornadoes players play both sides of the ball, and they appeared gassed by the end of the game.
Chambers said he noticed the defensive linemen breathing hard in the fourth quarter, and the Rebels capitalized.
“We knew they were going to wear down and break eventually,” Chambers said. “The whole thing before the game was, ‘Who’s going to be the first team to break?
“We didn’t break.”
The Rebels ran virtually the same play over and over on their last two possessions — the power read. Alcoa had no answer.
Maryville offensive lineman Tommy Ledford said Chambers recognizing the line’s contributions after the game “meant the world.”
“O-line never gets much recognition, so that just feels great,” Ledford said. “Small yards is key. If it’s successful, we’re going to run it until they stop you.”
With the game tied 3-3 early in the fourth quarter, the Rebels found the end zone on a 17-play drive that lasted almost nine minutes and involved four pass plays. Parker McGill got seven of those touches before scoring on a 3-yard run.
McGill finished with 118 yards on 23 carries.
“Parker was able to make some holes to get some big runs,” Maryville coach Derek Hunt said. “But a lot of it was because of the holes the offensive line was making.”
Hunt pointed out the performance of offensive lineman Mason Hobby — a senior who Hunt said is “175 pounds soaking wet.”
“Those five guys who everybody tells they’re too small,” Hunt began, “It’s those kids that I’m most proud of — those Maryville kids that have waited their turn to play.”
Maryville didn’t pass it once on its final drive, which last 12 plays and ended in a Chambers 1-yard touchdown run
“We had to get low and be physical,” Maryville offensive lineman Fisher Coalson said. “We had to beat them up front, and that’s what we did.”
The Rebels defense also did its part wearing down Alcoa, forcing three-and-outs that kept the Tornadoes’ defensive line on the field.
In its first three games, Alcoa averaged 313 yards and 36 points. Maryville held the Tornadoes to 122 yards and six first downs.
“They started leaning on us, and we couldn’t stop them,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “I don’t think we’ll see a better team the rest of the year.”