Friday’s season-opening high school football showdown between Tyner and Ooltewah, turned out to be a short one on the field, but a prolonged rain delay turned into an incessant waiting game Friday night at James N. Monroe Stadium, and the Owls managed to walk – maybe float would be more accurate – away with a 21-7 victory.
With the teams barely into the locker rooms at halftime, a toad-strangler of a storm quickly flooded the field and the first of several 30-minute lightning delays occurred at 8:45 p.m.
After delay upon delay – every dash of lightning added 30 minutes to the restart clock – and with nearly 95 percent of the fans that turned out to see the rivals square off long gone, game officials at 11:05 p.m.
deemed James Jarvis Field “unplayable.”
“Of course, we wanted to play,” said Ooltewah running back Sincere Quinn, who scored two touchdowns and added a two-point conversion run. “We were ready to go back out and I was really into the game, but they (officials) said the field was too bad. We get the win and that’s good.”
Once the head official said the field was unplayable, the two coaches – Ooltewah’s Scott Chandler, making his head debut with the Owls, and 30-year veteran Wayne Turner of Tyner – had to put their heads together and make a decision as to whether the teams would wait out the rain and possibly restart the game near midnight, or call it quits and go home.
Neither coach was thrilled about the possibly of coming back on Saturday to finish the game, and were wary about holding their teams around until the midnight hour struck to continue play – both end zones were flooded out to the 10-yard line. So, the coaches decided to call it a game after just two quarters.
“The score stands up,” Chandler said in a dark walkway between the two locker rooms. “We win the game. The refs deemed the field unplayable. Neither of us wanted to come back (Saturday) and it was down to the two choices.”
Said Tyner’s Turner, “We were ready to play the second half, but you can’t play when the field is unplayable. It’s nobody’s fault. It is what it is. We’ll regroup and get ourselves ready for the next game.”
Tyner has proven it can bounce back. A year ago, the Owls whipped the Rams, 55-9, and then fell to Signal Mountain, 27-7, before winning the next 12 games and eventually losing to Union City, 13-10, in two overtimes in the Class 2A championship game in Cookeville.
There was momentary talk to using Sunday to play because the threat of more rain on Saturday is real.
Ooltewah quarterback Kyrell Sanford really didn’t want anything to do with playing on Sunday.
“My mom (Ebony Sanford) is actually walking the stage that day, graduating from Virginia College and it starts at noon. If we had to, I would have come back, but this way I can see her walk across the stage.”
Tyner started the scoring when it moved 45 yards in two plays, with quarterback Martavius Ryals finding Jeremiah Batiste on a 44-yard scoring strike at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter.
Ooltewah answered with an 80-yard, 14-yard drive – 12 plays were on the ground – and senior running back Sincere Quinn bolted 7-yards for the touchdown. Braeden Haynes’ PAT tied the score at 7-7 with 2:58 left in the first period.
That drive was highlighted by three third-down conversions and one on fourth down when quarterback Kyrell Sanford on a fourth-and-5 hit Fisher Perry on a 5-yard gainer to the Tyner 10.
Quinn capped the drive with a 7-yard scamper into the end zone, and Braeden Haynes kicked the extra-point.
On Tyner’s next drive, Ooltewah’s defense came up with two tackles for a combined loss of 10 yards and a Ryals pass fell incomplete, setting up a 37-yard field goal. Luke Qualey got the kick away, but the Rams were penalized 5 yards on an illegal procedure call. Qualey’s subsequent 44-yard try, going into a strong wind that came up just before the storm blew in, came up short.
Ooltewah then drove 80 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead touchdown, the drive kept alive with a 15-yard roughing the passer call on Tyner on a third-and-4 play when the Rams’ Ronald Neal intercepted a Sanford pass and returned it 43 yards for an apparent touchdown. But, instead six plays later, Quinn scored from the 3 and Haynes missed the PAT.
“The penalty on the pick-six took the air out of us,” Turner said. “If we come out with the touchdown, we’re in pretty good shape. And without the illegal procedure penalty that field’s goal’s good. We could have been up 17-7 right there.”
The Owls’ defense forced a punt and Ooltewah’s offense took over on its own 38.
On second-and-11, Sanford gained 9 yards. On third-and-2, Sanford, flushed from the pocket, broke to his right, cut back and darted up the middle for a 51-yard touchdown gallop and outran two Tyner defenders to the end zone.
“I knew I had to get 2 yards to continue the drive,” Sanford said. “I was supposed to go to another hole out to the right, but it wasn’t there. I just bounced back to the left and the rest was history.”
Quinn ran for the two-point conversion.
“Other than the first series defensively, I was pleased how we came out in the first half,” Chandler said. “Tyner is a talented team and they’re probably going back to the state this year because they have some good players.”
The Rams go to Signal Mountain next Friday and the Owls travel to Science Hill in Johnson City – both are non-region contests.
Tyner 7 0 – 7
Ooltewah 7 14 – 21
TY – Jeremiah Batiste 44 pass from Martavius Ryals (9:34)
OOL -- Sincere Quinn 7 run (Braeden Haynes kick), 2:32
OOL – Quinn 3 run (kick failed), 6:26
OOL – Kyrell Sanford 51 run (Quinn run), 1:27
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)