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Alcoa outlasts Warriors

Davis Howell, CAK receiver (white jersey), can’t quite gather in this pass near the Alcoa goal-line.- Dan Barile/farragutpress
ALCOA — Rusty Bradley, Christian Academy of Knoxville's head football coach, doesn't believe in moral victories. But the Warriors proved Thursday, Oct. 28, they shouldn't be counted out against Alcoa.

In the end, CAK lost the District 4-AA championship at Alcoa, but with a final score of 50-33, they managed to score more points against the Tornadoes than any other team this season, including Maryville.

CAK quarterback Quinn Epperly said, “I really thought our offense played pretty well, but I did throw that one interception and we had to punt there at the end. Alcoa's got a heck of a defense. They put hard pressure on you.”

Epperly completed 24 of 45 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns.

Bradley agreed that the offense played well.

“We were able to get the ball out of our hand [on the passing game], and when things broke down, Quinn was able to scramble and make plays with his feet and keep some drives alive.”

Epperly's scoring receivers were all sophomores. Josh Smith caught two and Franklin Murchison caught one.

Davis Howell caught the first and last of Epperly's TD passes and said if CAK (9-1, 4-1) gets another chance against Alcoa, they'll need to score more points.

“We're just going to have to outscore them. Defense did a pretty good job. We put up some points, but it just didn't come out in our favor,” he added.

Inside linebacker Tyler Eichholtz disagreed about CAK's defense.

“Defense struggled with stopping Taharin Tyson and Darrell Warren. We got beat up front and we’re getting physically outplayed on defense, and that's what hurt us,” Eichholtz, who had 14 tackles, said.

“We lost and that's the bottom line … We had our chance to beat them, and we just couldn't get it done.”

Alcoa (10-0) has knocked CAK out of the playoffs the last several years, and if the two teams meet up in the post-season, the Warriors hope to end Alcoa's winning streak — and six-year run of state title streaks.

“Hopefully this game is something we can build on, but honestly we're past moral victories with these guys. It's not about competing hard and playing them tough,” Bradley said.

“It's about beating them and actually winning the game. That's what we're shooting for, and hopefully we'll get another shot.”

Epperly added, “This [game] lets our guys know we can play with [Alcoa]. They've beaten us a lot, and a lot of people doubted us before this game, but it gives us confidence that we can hang with these guys. If you take away some mistakes, it might have been a different outcome.”

For the regular season, Epperly completed 194 out of 275 passes for an impressive 2,597 yards and 34 touchdowns. CAK's top receivers are all sophomores.

Howell leads the team with 71 catches for 971 yards. Smith is second with 50 catches for 818 yards. Both have 13 touchdowns.

Senior Carson Pegram rushed for 542 yards and had nine touchdowns for the season.

Senior Jacob Duncan led the team defensively with 102 tackles, followed by Eichholtz with 57.

The first round playoff is a Warriors versus Yellowjackets rematch. CAK beat Kingston 42-21 during the regular season.

As No. 2 seed, CAK has home-field advantage.

Opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 5.


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