Parker McGill thought of many ways he could help Maryville knock off its cross-county rival Alcoa in his first career start.
The junior running back never envisioned he would score the game-winning touchdown.
McGill trotted into the end zone from five yards out early in the fourth quarter to give the Rebels a lead they would never relinquish in a 17-3 victory that ended the Tornadoes’ 29-game winning streak on Thursday night at Goddard Field.
“I was just sitting in the locker room with my headphones on thinking about different situations,” McGill told The Daily Times. “I didn’t know I was actually going to score and help us win the game.”
McGill didn’t learn he would be the lead back until he saw senior running back Tee Hodge (turf toe) in street clothes earlier in the day.
He proceeded to eclipse the century mark in rushing for the second consecutive game, recording 118 yards on 23 carries, seven of which came on a 17-play, 84-yard touchdown drive that decided the 91st edition of the Battle of Pistol Creek.
The Rebels (4-0) converted two third downs and one fourth down during the possession while eating up eight minutes, 33 seconds off the clock — the equivalent to a steady stream of body blows that wore down a stout Alcoa defense down.
Maryville sealed their eighth win of the rivalry in nine years with another drawn-out drive, this one a 12-play, 67-yard possession capped by senior quarterback and Great American Rivalry Series MVP Cade Chambers’ 1-yard rushing touchdown with 1:34 remaining.
“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 than them the rest of the year no matter who we play.”
Those two possessions were a welcome sight after the Rebels spent most of the night handing the ball to the Tornadoes (3-1).
Maryville turned the ball over four times — three fumbles and an interception — for the second time this season, but just like its Week 2 matchup with Bearden, the defense bailed it out.
Alcoa was unable to convert any of Maryville’s mistakes into points, going three-and-out on three drives and being interrupted by halftime on the other. Those four possessions resulted in minus-7 yards.
It was more of the same the rest of the game, as the Rebels limited the Tornadoes to 122 yards on 41 plays (2.98 yards per play). Alcoa averaged 268 yards through its first three games of the season.
“We never got into a good rhythm on offense,” Rankin said. “They just whipped us.”
“Our defense was outstanding,” Maryville coach Derek Hunt added. “I’m so proud of our kids for playing as hard as they did because that’s one of the better offenses in the state, I think, as far as talent, skill and coaching. Our defensive kids played really hard and they executed well. I couldn’t be happier for them.”
With thousands of eyes on Goddard Field, Maryville put forth a dominating performance capped by a pair of drives in which it manhandled a team used to mauling opponents.
Thursday won’t threaten the Tornadoes’ spot on the Class 3A throne, and while it does say a lot about the Rebels, they still have a treacherous Class 6A field to navigate.
“I hope this isn’t the best thing that happens to us this year,” Hunt said. “We have lofty goals and we hope to make a deep playoff run. We have a week off to get healthy because I’m sure we’re going to be banged up, and then we go play a really good Farragut team.
“They’re not going to care that we just beat Alcoa, so we’re definitely going to have to stay on them and be ready to play.”
“We’ll bounce back,” Rankin added. “If we give the effort that we gave tonight and I do a better job with our offense, we’ll be fine in our classification.”