The gamble nearly paid off, but the Indians (8-2) ultimately came up short in a 21-6 non-region loss to the Tornadoes (9-1).
A Tribe fumble on the Alcoa 32-yard line with 4:06 left in the game was recovered by the Tornadoes’ Ronald Jackson, giving the ball back to a churning offense. Four plays later, Alcoa star back Ahmaudd Sankey scored from 6 yards away to cap the 68-yard drive and put the game on ice with 2:23 to play.
“We wanted to dictate what happened in the game and I thought we were able to do that with the drives we had,” said Tribe coach Joey Christian. “We were able to get them off the field a few times with the defense standing tall in the first half. Our guys did a great job of that.”
D-B managed only a pair of Jaden Alderson field goals, one from 39 yards and the other from 42. Both capped six-plus-minute drives.
Sankey finished with 15 carries and 113 yards, but fullback Tristan Blankenship was who gave the Tribe the most trouble when he had the ball. Blankenship had just three carries, but they went for 82 yards.
“Blankenship is 220 (pounds) and every bit of it,” Christian said. “It’s good for our guys to see the big power backs again. Every team we see down the road is going to have a big power back like that. We have to tackle them and keep some defensive leverage.”
Alcoa quarterback Sam Vaulton was efficient and smart with his decision-making, going 4-of-8 for 56 yards and two touchdowns. One score was to Sankey on a 21-yard swing pass in the first half. The other TD, which came in the third quarter, went to Isiah Cox in the back corner of the end zone on third-and-goal from the 20.
The Tribe’s offense sputtered at times but found some good yardage against an Alcoa defense that had shut out five straight opponents following a loss to Maryville.
“They have a great defense,” Christian said. “That was the best defense we’ve seen all year. Those guys have a lot of scholarship offers and accolades, and there’s a reason for that. They deserve them. They kept us off balance and we were able to get some yards, but then we’d have a leak off the backside.
“I’m extremely proud of the way our kids played.”
Tribe quarterback Zane Whitson connected on 10 of 18 passes for 81 yards but was sacked four times for a loss of 8 yards.
Tyler Tesnear carried the ball 13 times for 48 yards and Phillip Armitage had 17 carries for 69 yards.
D-B, which wrapped up the Region 1-6A title with Science Hill’s loss to Bearden on Friday night, will be at home next week for the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Tribe’s opponent is yet to be determined.
“Whoever we play is not going to be as talented as Alcoa, and that’s the first thing we’ll take out off it,” Christian said. “We’re still a good football team and we came and played hard. Alcoa knew that we were here and that we can play with anybody.”
Alcoa will be at home next week against West Greene in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.