Murfreesboro, Tenn. — You can’t teach the things Randall Cobb can do with a football in his hands. Often, there’s little you can do to stop it, either.
The Alcoa High School senior rushed 18 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, adding a third score on a 14-yard toss to tight end Tyler Robinson, and the top-ranked Tornadoes routed Goodpasture Christian School, 35-3, in the Class 2A state championship game last Friday night at Middle Tennessee State University.
With the win, the Tornadoes (14-1) became the first Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association team to claim four consecutive titles in the playoff era. The championship was Alcoa’s ninth overall and fifth since the turn of the century. It marked the third consecutive season the Tornadoes have blown out the Cougars in the title game, Friday’s result, surprisingly, the most dominant of the three.
Graduating 20 seniors a year ago, including 2A Mr. Football Chris Shiverdecker and highly-touted defensive prospect Rae Sykes, Alcoa started eight seniors in the championship game, many of them, like Cobb and running back Troy Hodge, playing both sides of the ball. With the dazzling display delivered by the Mr. Football Cobb, it made little difference.
“I can’t describe right now how I feel,” the BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player said. “So many people doubted us coming into this season. “It just felt so good to look out into the crowd (at game’s end). It just means so much.”
Alcoa churned through the Goodpasture defense for 317 yards of offense, limiting the Cougars’ ball-control wing-T to a combined 169 yards.
“We worked all week on reading our keys,” Tornado linebacker Conner Miles said, “and we did that tonight.”
By comparison, the Tornadoes outclassed Goodpasture, 31-3, a year ago in recording the three-peat. It took less than a quarter Friday to realize the result this time would be more severe.
Alcoa drove 62 yards in 10 plays with opening kickoff to take an early 7-0 lead.
“After you beat them a couple of years, you know how much they want to get back at you,” Alcoa coach Gary Ranking said. “You want to get them down early.
“They won the coin toss and elected to kick to us, so I guess they got what they asked fore.”
Cobb did much of the damage on the march, darting this way and that through the Goodpasture defense to put the Tornadoes in first-and-10 at the Cougar 14-yard line. There, Cobb, a University of Kentucky commitment, fired down the middle to Robinson, with the talented sophomore bulling over a pair of Goodpasture defenders at the goal line to shove his way into the end zone.
“It was a play we thought would be there, and we worked on it all week,” Rankin said. “It was a good first drive.”
Things took a disastrous turn for the Cougars on the first play of the ensuing series. Robinson, named the game’s defensive most valuable player with six tackles, a forced fumble and three tackles for loss, stripped Goodpasture rushing star Tracy Mayes of the ball at the Goodpasture 11-yard line. Tornado senior Josh Dossett recovered.
In four plays, it was 13-0 Alcoa, with Cobb keeping on the shotgun snap from 2 for the score.
One Goodpasture series later, the Tornado defense dealt the Cougars a fatal blow.
Goodpasture mounted an impressive 16-play, 58-yard drive to move to fourth-and-goal at the Alcoa 5 on the first play of the second quarter. Michael Rogan then carried the ball over the right side for the Cougars, with Dossett coming up with the stop at the 8-yard line.
Sixteen plays, 58 yards, no points.
Alcoa set sail from there.
Cobb took the Tornadoes the distance in 11 plays following the Dossett hit, a couple of Cobb bursts out of the shotgun keying the march.
On third-and-9, Cobb squirted 11 yards through the right side on draw play. On second-and-4 four plays later, the super-quick left-hander took off again, this time burning the Cougars for a 16-yard gain. After a facemask penalty on the play tacked on 15 more, putting the Tornadoes in first-and-12 at the Goodpasture 12, Alcoa finished the drive three plays later, with Cobb scampering in from 4 yards behind a block from junior Adriane Womac for a 21-0 advantage with seven minutes to play in the half.
Alcoa held Goodpasture’s run-oriented offense to 60 yards on the ground through two quarters. The Cougars would add only 36 yards through the air.
Sophomore linebacker Deontra Herbert and junior safety Sam Thompson paced a punishing Alcoa defense with four tackles each at the half. Hodge and Miles added three stops each.
“I had the (butterflies) a little bit, but I had to put it aside,” Herbert said. “You can’t be scared.”
Robinson was equally awed after receiving the game’s top defensive award, topped only by the Tornadoes claiming the fourth straight title.
“It feels great,” he said. “I want to thank God for this. He’s the one that’s given me the ability to do this.
“It (the award) boosted me up, but I don’t want to get the big head because I’ve got two more years.”
Cobb completed only one pass, the 14-yard hookup with Robinson, in the opening half, but, with the way the defense was playing, it was plenty. When play resumed in the third, Alcoa wasted no time in putting it away.
Thompson picked off a Whit Mahan pass on Goodpasture’s first possession of the third, the interception and 29-yard return giving the Tornadoes the ball first-and-10 at the Cougar 14.
“I was coming from the backside, and he just laid it up and I went up,” Thompson said.
Two plays later, linemen Rex Myers and Jackie Midkiff collapsed the left side of the Goodpasture defense with crushing blocks. Hodge pranced in untouched from 7 yards for a 28-0 Alcoa lead with nine minutes to play in the period.
Rankin made sure the Tornadoes didn’t rest easy.
“They’d come back on some teams that were ahead by 20 points,” he said.
Goodpasture would mount one last drive in an attempt to rally. A 16-play, 70-yard series would yield only a field goal, though, when Robinson dropped Mahan for Alcoa’s only sack, the Cougars then in third-and-goal at the Tornado 6-yard line.
With six minutes to play in the fourth, Hodge popped through the right side from the 2 to conclude the scoring.