By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
ALCOA Johnson County was doing things the Wright way early on tied 7-7 with top ranked Alcoa at Bill Bailey Stadium. Then all of a sudden, everything went haywire from that point.
The Longhorns played their hearts outs in a 62-14 loss to the superior Tornadoes in the first-round of their Class 3A playoff game. But the deadlock they enjoyed briefly was erased before you could blink an eye.
Alcoa had taken a 7-0 lead on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Keishaun Johnson to Brenden Teeter on the second play of the game.
We had been practicing that play for a while, said Teeter. Coach (Rankin) told us we would probably run it tonight. I knew I would be wide open for a touchdown.
The Longhorns made sure it didnt happen a second time.
Dakota Wright answered with a web-gem defensive play that pulled the Horns even. His 55-yard interception return to the end zone brought on praise from Tornadoes head coach Gary Rankin.
That was as good of a break on the ball as Ive seen all year, said Rankin. He made a great play and those kids played hard. We just outmanned them.
And outman them they did.
The Tornadoes would put 48 points on the scoreboard in the first half. Johnson County trailed by 34 at the intermission.
Theyve got a good football team with a whole lot of speed, said Longhorns head coach Don Kerley. It was a whole lot more than anybody we saw play this year. We moved the football some but they kept making big play after big play. Its not just one or two players. They come at you from everywhere on the field.
The 13-time state champions would turn on the afterburners after Wrights TD.
A 12-yard touchdown run by Caleb Woody took three plays and Alcoa led 14-7.
They padded that to a 14-point advantage on a 72-yard pass from Jalen Myers to Teeter.
Thats a well-coached football team, added Kerley. Coach Gary Rankin and his staff do a great job with those kids. They attack your weaknesses. They dress 85 players and so many of them can play. We have to get stronger and faster in the offseason and we know that. But I dont think we could ever get numbers anywhere close to what they have.
Alcoa continue to show its supremacy.
They scored on runs of seven and two yards then added a 32-yard TD jaunt by stud running back Jaquez Tyson.
Our kids played hard and Im extremely proud of them, said Kerley. But Alcoa is in a different league. I commend our seniors for making the playoffs for a second consecutive season. I wish we could have had them for three or four years.
The Tornadoes ended the night with 565 yards of total offense. However Johnson County did accomplish a few milestones.
Warren Kerleys 26-yard touchdown pass to Greg Roark before halftime put him over 2000 yards passing for the season. He ended the night 3-of-7 with two interceptions. Roark, Cody Bailey and Chase Phillips combined for over 1500 of those receiving yards in that 11 game span.
Cole Peters forced a fumble that he recovered. He finished with seven tackles. Peyton Fenner led the Longhorns with 10 stops. Samuel Icenhour added six and Robert Bower provided five.
Jordan Grubb racked up 65 yards on 10 carries as their top rusher.
Freshman Nathan Arnold came off the bench to complete 4-of-5 passes for 50 yards. But the biggest play of the night belonged to Wright and his touchdown interception return.
I knew what play they were going to call, said Wright about his pick-six. We tried to come down here and not get destroyed. We werent scared or intimidated. We just came out here and did the best we could.
Peters added eight carries for 32 yards to compliment his defensive efforts.
Alcoa is one heck of a football team, said Peters. It helps when you can play teams like this. They werent handed all those state championships. They just go out there and take care of business.
The Tornadoes (10-1) will host Gatlinburg-Pittman (8-3) in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs at Goddard Field on Friday. G-P defeated Sweetwater, 52-23, in the first round.
Johnson County ends their season at 4-7.
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