Something had to give at Tyner’s Bob Evans Stadium Friday night.
Watertown and Tyner met in the second round of the TSSAA’s Class 2-A playoffs and both entered with nine wins and two losses. The Rams had won nine in a row while the Purple Tigers had prevailed in eight straight games.
Make that 10 in a row for the Rams now as they took care of business in the second half, rallying from a 10-7 deficit at the break to advance with a 33-22 victory.
The Rams will be at home again next Friday to face the Marion County Warriors for the second time this season. The Warriors advanced with a big 32-14 victory over Trousdale County on the road. Tyner beat Marion in Jasper on Sept. 15 by a 37-28 final.
The Rams have had great success in coach Wayne Turner’s long tenure as their head coach by running the football. They always have a stable of outstanding young men to love see just how far they can go.
Tyner finished the game with 293 rushing yards – they only had 23 yards on two pass completions for 316 total yards – but it was two intercepted passes on defense returned for touchdowns that were the difference in this game.
Quarterback Jaylen Bowens had two rushing TDs in the final two quarters, but it was Tyrique Henry’s 41-yard return of a pass from Watertown quarterback Bryce Webster with 2:32 left in the third quarter that gave Tyner a little breathing room at 21-10 and the Rams never trailed again.
Webster hooked up with Heath Price from 12 yards early in the fourth quarter to bring the Purple Tigers back to within 21-16, but Bowens countered with a 57-yard run four plays later to make it 27-16 with 8:53 to play and Aubrillius Martin returned an interception 68 yards at the 7:09 mark for a 33-16 Tyner lead.
Watertown added a final score on a 43-yard pass from Webster to Price with 3:37 to play, but Tyner’s Tyon Young recovered the onside kick and the Rams were able to run out the clock to advance.
“All I know is that we play here again next week and that’s a good thing,” said Tyner’s Turner once the final horn sounded.
“For the first time in a long time, I was really calm at the half and didn’t say a whole lot. We all knew we had made way too many stupid mistakes and you can’t do that against a good football team. We live to play at least one more week and that’s all that matters. It really doesn’t matter how we got the job done,” he added.
Watertown coach Gavin Webster had nothing but praise for his team that 10 seniors on its roster.
“We never gave up and I’ll always be proud of that. A lot of our kids grew up tonight. We fought tooth and nail and gave ourselves an opportunity, but we made a few mistakes in the second half that hurt us. We got behind the 8 ball and had to do a few things different, but we played our hearts out here tonight and that’s all I could ask,” he nodded before heading to the Watertown dressing room.
The Purple Tigers struck first when Price scored on a run from the 5 with 6:34 left in the first quarter. Nathaniel Gutierrez had the kick and the difference was 7-0 in favor of the visitors from middle Tennessee.
The big play in the drive was a 64-yard completion from Webster to Elijay Maklary on the second play of the four-play, 76-yard drive.
Young recovered a Watertown fumble on the 35 and it took just two plays for Tyner to even the score.
Jeremy Elston picked up 11 yards on the first play while Young zipped into the end zone from the 24 on the next play. Luke Qualey’s kick knotted the score with 2:58 left in the opening stanza.
Webster completed another long pass covering 42 yards to Price, giving the Purple Tigers first and goal from the 3, but that’s as far as Watertown would get as Zach Hill was tackled for losses totaling eight yards on two plays while Webster’s second-down pass was incomplete.
Gutierrez came in and calmly booted a 28-yard field goal with 9:33 left in the second and that was the difference at halftime.
Tyner came out with a totally different mindset in the second half.
Taking the second-half kickoff, the Rams marched 72 yards on 17 plays in 7:54 – 16 of those on the ground – to gain the lead for the first time when Bowens scored on a keeper from the 8 with 4:06 left in the quarter.
Tyner was penalized twice for holding on that drive, but those were the only two negative plays as the Rams were starting to click.
Henry’s pick six then extended Tyner’s lead and the Rams never looked back.
Young was the leading rusher for Tyner with 111 yards on 14 carries while Elston was next with 96 yards on 18 attempts. Bowens was next with 87 yards on eight carries and the two TDs.
Price was the leader on offense for the Purple Tigers as he had nine receptions for 164 yards and two TDs receiving and the one five-yarder on the ground. Maklary had the one big catch covering 64 yards.
Price also had the only turnover for the Purple Tigers as he intercepted a Bowens pass midway through the second quarter.
The Purple Tigers won the total yardage battle by 334-316. All but one yard came through the air while the Tyner defense limited the Watertown ground game to a net one yard on 25 carries.
The Purple Tigers also won the first down battle, 18-15.
WATERTOWN 7 3 0 12 -- 22
TYNER 7 0 14 12 -- 33
W – Heath Price 5 run (Nathaniel Gutierrez kick), 6:34 left in first;
T – Tyon Young 24 run (Luke Qualey kick), 2:58 left in first;
W – Gutierrez 28 field goal, 9:33 left in second;
T – Jaylen Bowens 8 run (Qualey kick), 4:06 left in third;
T – Tyrique Henry 41 interception return (Qualey kick), 2:32 left in third;
W – Price 12 pass from Bryce Webster (pass failed), 10:32 left in fourth;
T – Bowens 57 run (kick wide), 8:53 left in fourth;
T – Aubrillius Martin 68 interception return (kick failed), 7:09 left in fourth;
W – Price 43 pass from Webster (pass failed), 3:37 left in fourth.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)