by David Fatzinger
Thursday night’s battle between the Alcoa Tornadoes and the Maryville Rebels at Jim Renfro Field was one for the record books, keeping 15,000+ fans on the edge of their seats until the final whistle blew.
The highly anticipated battle between the #1 and #3 ranked teams in Tennessee was the talk of the city, county, and state, and it took an extraordinary performance by Alcoa’s Most Valuable Player Vee Hambrick to decide the final score. Hambrick had touchdown runs of 35, 68, and 34 yards on Thursday and ended the night with a game-high 209 yards on only 15 carries.
Both teams battled for every inch throughout the first half, with Alcoa taking a 14-10 halftime lead on Hambrick’s first touchdown of the game. As the teams exited the field at the half, everyone across the stadium was sure the second half would be a slugfest as well. But in the last 24 minutes, both teams’ offenses went up and down the field on big play after big play, turning the game into one everyone will remember for years and years to come.
In the second half, Maryville scored on touchdown passes of 72 and 71 yards by first year starter Patton Robinette. But the game came down to the elusiveness and pure God-given speed of Hamrick as he glided between defenders and scampered for over 140 of his yards in the second half. Hamrick’s third and final touchdown of the night-a 34-yard run on a fourth down with 7 yards to go-came with under three minutes remaining and was the last punch in a fight that turned the lights out on Maryville in their first loss of the season.
As hundreds of fans from both Maryville and Alcoa lingered on the field after the game, with Alcoa’s players, coaches, parents, and fans celebrating long after the final horn, Coach Rankin wiped tears from his eyes, took a hold of the Great American Rivalry Series Championship Trophy, and said simply, “This was one great game.” Coach, that is an understatement.
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- Alcoa vs. Maryville – 2010