CLASS 3A: Alcoa wins 16th overall state title, third in a row

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Alcoa. Championship game. You know who won.

The Tornadoes captured their state-best 16th overall state Thursday night and once again have a title streak of three or more in a row.

Alcoa’s defense muted one of the state’s top rushing attacks, and the Tornadoes outplayed Covington 31-20 at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium to make it a three-peat in the Class 3A BlueCross Bowl Championship.

Alcoa (13-2) has now had three streaks in its history of winning three titles or more consecutively: 1977-79, 2005-10 and 2015-17. Alcoa coach Gary Rankin notched career win No. 410 and his 13th state title as a coach -- nine with Alcoa and four with Riverdale.

Alcoa linebacker Cameron Woody sealed the win with an interception with 6 minutes and 13 seconds left, preserving a 10-point advantage. Kareem Rodriguez, the game's defensive MVP for his defensive TD in the fourth quarter, added a 2-yard scoring run with 2:13 to play to officially close the door on the Chargers.

Covington (13-2) managed just 298 yards (175 rushing) of total offense. The Chargers averaged 395 yards of offense per game coming into the contest.

Junior quarterback Walker Russell was the game’s offensive MVP with 183 total yards (60 rushing) and a rushing touchdown.

Alcoa led 17-7 at the break on the strength of Russell’s 8-for-10 passing performance for 123 yards. He also added a rushing touchdown for the 10-point advantage with 2:59 left in the second quarter.

K’Vaughn Tyson’s 16-yard TD run at the 6:37 mark of the first quarter got the scoring started, and Alcoa went on to amass 209 yards of offense by half.

Defensively, the Tornadoes limited Covington to 2-for-9 passing for 51 yards, an interception (Jack Warwick) and a touchdown (50 yards, Tyrese Winfrey). Covington averaged 305.9 rushing yards per game coming into the contest but managed just 74 on the ground on 18 carries in the first half.

Still, the Chargers found a way to slice Alcoa’s lead to 17-14 with 9:18 left in the third quarter on a hard-fought, 1-yard run by Cordarius Page, which brought an end to a 72-yard drive.

Alcoa nearly bumped the lead back to 10, but Walker Russell’s lob-pass to the end zone on fourth down was batted away with 9:24 left.

No matter.

Alcoa’s Rodriguez recovered a Covington fumble on the next play for an Alcoa touchdown.

Tornadoes 24, Covington 14, with 9:16 left.

The Chargers got no closer.

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