There was no need for a fourth-quarter rally at Tyner Friday night.
The Tyner Rams had to score three touchdowns in the final five minutes at Jasper on Sept. 15 to beat the Marion County Warriors, 37-28, but the second meeting of the season wasn’t nearly as close.
The visiting Warriors scored a touchdown on their second possession for a 7-0 lead, but the Rams came to life in a hurry and scored touchdowns on their next four possessions en route to a convincing 42-7 victory at Wayne Turner Field in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Class AA state football playoffs.
Marion County quarterback Isaiah Sampson zipped 82 yards on a keeper to put the visitors ahead 7-0 following James Hudson’s kick with 7:44 left in the first quarter, but the rest of the game belonged to the Rams as they completely dominated on both sides of the ball.
Friday’s victory was Tyner’s 11th in a row and sets up a semifinal game at Rockwood next Friday after the Tigers rallied for a 9-8 win over Meigs County, ending its season at 12-1 after a dozen straight wins.
But on a night where the temperature was cool and not cold, the Rams played great football after allowing that first Marion County TD and coach Wayne Turner was really happy about the final result.
“That first touchdown run for them didn’t go over too well, but we’re playing well right now and we’ve been lights out on defense for the past three or four weeks,” Turner said after the game ended with the mercy rule in place.
“I thought we moved the ball well as we ran and passed when we needed to, but plain and simple, this just puts us one step closer to our biggest goal and that’s to play for a state title in Cookeville.
“We always talk about getting off to a quick start and we don’t do that very often, but once we got it in gear tonight, we took off. We gave up the big play, but that either made us made or woke us up as we played really well from that point on,” the veteran coach continued.
The Rams have had great success running the football in Turner’s 28 years as their head coach and Friday’s game was no different as Tyner finished with 192 rushing yards.
Southpaw quarterback Jaylen Bowens only threw the ball 10 times, but he completed seven for 161 yards. Four of those completions went for TDs, including three to sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Batiste, who had four catches in the game for 98 yards, including TDs covering 13, 21 and 46 yards.
“We’re blessed to have some good running backs, but we also have a quarterback who can throw it and some receivers who are pretty good at catching it. When the ball is in the air, Jeremiah thinks it belongs to him and he makes the catch most of the time,” Turner praised.
The Warriors have advanced to the state finals each of the last three years, but that won’t be the case after they finished at 7-6.
Despite the lopsided loss, Marion County coach Joey Mathis was somewhat upbeat.
“The scoreboard doesn’t define this team or our season, but things just didn’t go our way tonight,” he said shortly after the final horn had sounded.
“We got the long run from Sampson early, but couldn’t seem to get out of the gate after that. Give credit to Tyner as they have an outstanding football team, but it seemed like every time we had a drive going, we either made a mistake or got a costly penalty,” he said.
After an exchange of punts at the start of the game, the Warriors took the lead when Sampson raced up the middle for the first score of the game.
Tyner didn’t waste any time getting even as Bowens connected with Batiste from 13 yards to even the score following the first of six straight PATs by Luke Qualey with 5:49 left in the opening stanza.
Jeremy Elston returned a Warrior punt 42 yards to give Tyner great field position at the Marion 37 and it took just two plays for Tyon Young to find the end zone, gaining five yards on the first play before scoring from the 32 with 3:30 left in the first.
An interception by Tyner’s Ke’un Webb put the Rams back in business near the end of the quarter. Seven plays and 71 yards later, Bowens hooked up with Batiste again, this time from 21 yards and the difference was 21-7 with 10:08 left in the half.
It was real obvious at that point that everything Tyner was doing was working like a charm while the Warriors were having an impossible time getting anything to click.
Bowens’ third TD pass of 25 yards to Martavius Ryals with 1:49 left in the second extended the lead to 28-7 and that was the score at intermission.
The Rams put the game out of reach with touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half.
Elston scored on a run from the 4 with 7:51 left in the third while Bowens hurled a 46-yard TD to Batiste with 5:05 to go, extending Tyner’s lead to 35 points and putting the mercy rule in effect where the clock ran continuously for the rest of the game.
Tyner finished with 353 total yards, including 192 on the ground and 161 through the air.
Young was the leading rusher with 81 yards on 10 carries while Elston followed with 62 yards on a dozen attempts. Batiste was the leading receiver with 98 yards on four catches while Ryals had the one catch for 25 yards and a TD.
Marion County finished with 153 total yards, including 145 on the ground and just eight through the air.
Sampson was the leading rusher with 110 yards on eight carries while Jacob Saylors had a tough night and finished with a net 10 yards on 12 trips. Seth McClain had 32 yards on seven carries, including a 17-yard gain on the final play of the game.
Tyner finished with 15 first downs while the Warriors were limited to just seven.
MARION CO. 7 0 0 0 -- 7
TYNER 14 14 14 0 -- 42
MC – Isaiah Sampson 82 run (James Hudson kick), 7:44 left in first;
TY – Jeremiah Batiste 13 pass from Jaylen Bowens (Luke Qualey kick), 5:49 left in first;
TY – Tyon Young 32 run (Qualey kick), 3:30 left in first;
TY – Batiste 21 pass from Bowens (Qualey kick), 10:08 left in second;
TY – Martavious Ryals 25 pass from Bowens (Qualey kick), 1:49 left in second;
TY – Jeremy Elston 4 run (Qualey kick), 7:51 left in third;
TY – Batiste 46 pass from Bowens (Qualey kick), 5:05 left in third.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)