Cookeville Falls to Powerhouse Alcoa, 35-7

By Michael Lindsay


Alcoa is Tennessee’s most decorated football dynasty for a reason.

Despite a strong first punch from Cookeville, the 20-time state champion Alcoa Tornadoes left the Cumberland Plateau with a 35-7 win over the Cavaliers Thursday night.

“I’m proud of a lot of the things we did,” said Cookeville head coach Taylor Hennigan following the game. “I think we’re closer to where we want to be at times that maybe even we realize. Our goal is to win every game we play, though, and we’re disappointed we didn’t do that.”

Alcoa, winners of the past 7 consecutive Class AAA state championships, improves to 6-1 with the win, while Cookeville falls to 2-5 overall.

A suffocating Tornado defense held Cookeville to negative rushing yards and recorded 10 sacks in Thursday’s non-region showdown.

“We have a ton of stuff to improve on; we struggled to run the football and protect,” Hennigan said. “That’s where the game was decided.”

Despite the point total, Cookeville’s defense played well against Alcoa.

“It’s as good as our defense has played; we put them in bad situations all night,” said Hennigan. “They (Alcoa) had short fields. When you blitz as much as we did, you’re going to put your guys on an island on the outside. I thought our corners and safeties tackled well.”

It was Cookeville who found paydirt first as they scored on the game’s opening drive.

Cavalier quarterback Mace Thomsen connected with receiver Jayden Baker on the game’s second play for a 58-yard gain, setting up a 28-yard touchdown pass two plays later from Thomsen to Brock Owen. Thomsen hit Owen in the right corner of the end zone, where he won a 50-50 jump ball against an Alcoa defender.

“We’ve tried to isolate Brock, and he made a couple of good plays,” Hennigan said.

Following Alonzo Sanchez-Cantu’s extra point, Cookeville led the Tornadoes 7-0 with 9:50 remaining in the opening period.

Alcoa answered on their ensuing drive as a short Elijah Cannon touchdown run tied the contest at 7 with 4:05 left in the first quarter.

The Tornadoes grabbed the lead with 1:05 left in the opening period via an 18-yard touchdown pass to Luke Cannon, giving Alcoa a 14-7 lead.

Alcoa posted two second-quarter touchdowns, including a 9-yard pass with 6:23 left in the quarter and another on a Jordan Harris touchdown run to lead 28-7 at halftime.

A long Alcoa scoring drive started the second half as the Tornadoes scored via a Harris TD reception with 7:40 left in the third period to take a 35-7 lead over Cookeville.

Neither team found the end zone again from there as Alcoa held on to defeat Cookeville, 35-7.

“Our guys are competitive and I knew they were going to approach the game the right way,” Hennigan said. “Where we want to be is playing these types of games and opponents every year.”

Cookeville falls to 2-5, but has an extra week to recover from Alcoa and prepare for their return to Region 3-6A play on Oct. 14.

“We’ve got a break; we’ll be off about a week, then that second week we host our biggest game of the season,” Hennigan said, “We’ve got Coffee County coming, who’s leading our region. It’ll be a huge game with implications of hosting playoff games and potentially winning our region, as crazy as it is to think about. We’ve still got tons of stuff to play for.”

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