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Final Milan task is unseating Alcoa

Final Milan task is unseating Alcoa
It’s Milan’s turn to see if it can derail the Alcoa Express.
All that’s left between the Tornadoes and a fifth straight Class 2A state championship is the Bulldogs, who whipped Goodpasture 28-7 in one of two semifinals Friday night at a packed Johnny Hale Stadium.
Alcoa, which is gunning for its 10th state title in all and sixth this decade, punched its finals ticket in the other semi with a 30-14 triumph over Marion County.
The Twisters had beaten Goodpasture in each of the past three 2A championship games, but must now get by an unbeaten Milan squad to ‘five-peat’ next Friday.
The much-anticipated Blue-Cross Bowl championship game will match the season-long top two ranked teams Friday at 7 p.m. on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. No. 1 Alcoa’s only loss in 14 games came vs. county rival Maryville — winners of 74 straight and going for its fifth straight 4A title next weekend.
The Bulldogs will be going for their fifth state championship — having previously won titles in 1971, ’77, ’98 and ’99 — and will carry the banner for all of rural West Tennessee after semifinal losses by McKenzie and Henry County.
Jo Byrns ended McKenzie’s season and will make their first-ever appearance in the finals after beating the Rebels 31-21 in Class A, while HC saw its year end in the semifinals for the third straight season in a 31-24 Class 4A loss to Hillsboro.
MTSU’s Floyd Stadium will be the site of all five Division I state title games this weekend, the 1A and 2A contests to be played on Friday at 3:30 and 7 p.m., respectively, and the 3A, 4A, and 5A matchups held on Saturday at noon, 3:30 and 7 at night.
The following is a recap of how West Tennessee teams fared in Friday’s semifinals.
Milan 28, Goodpasture 7
Jobronski Gilbert ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns and the Bulldog defense held Mr. Football Back of the Year finalist Benjamin Cunningham in check to get a little payback from Goodpasture’s win at the same juncture two years ago.
Gilbert’s scoring runs were all of the short variety (2, 3 and 7 yards) and came after Justin Coleman threw a 54-yard TD pass to Tristian Peoples on Milan’s first possession.
The Bulldogs scored on three of their first four offensive series of the evening and led 21-0 before Goodpasture made its only trip to the endzone near the end of the first half.
Coleman completed 6-of-8 for 138 yards for a Milan offense that was essentially evenly-balanced with 150 total rushing yards.
Cunningham, who had over 1,600 yards rushing coming into the contest, did run for 104 yards on 19 carries, though just one of his runs gained 20 yards.
Goodpasture’s special teams were hardly that as it botched a field goal attempt on the first possession and had an errant snap on a punt attempt that gave Milan the ball at the visitors’ 10 and set up an easy touchdown. Twice the Cougars (9-5) failed on fourth-down tries near midfield instead of punting.
Jo Byrns 31, McKenzie 21
The Rebels — bidding for a return trip to the single-A championship game — contributed greatly to their own demise with four turnovers and gave up 25 unanswered points after taking a brief 7-0 lead on Tyler Watson’s 14-yard interception return.
But JB’s Kevin Ashabraner ran for 197 yards and three TDs on 33 carries.
Jake Johnson had his third straight 100-yard rushing game of the playoffs for McKenzie (11-3), going for 131 on 17 carries — a pair of short scoring plunges included.
Hillsboro 31, Henry Co. 24
Hillsboro denied the Patriots a berth in the 4A finals for the second time in three seasons, using a 17-point second quarter to rally from a 10-7 deficit and ruin HC’s bid for a perfect season.
Both teams scored within the game’s first two minutes, but the Burros’ Keith Perry ran 32 yards for a TD and threw a seven-yard scoring pass to Cory Jordan — both in the second period — to give Hillsboro a lead it would not lose.
Henry County Mr. Football Back of the Year finalist Marsalis Teague had a 64-yard touchdown run, a 95-yard kickoff return for six points and threw an 18-yard scoring pass to Shonte Sims.
Teague, who is expected to choose between Florida and Alabama as his college destination, ended up with almost 300 all-purpose yards in his final game in a Patriot uniform.

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