Martavious Ryals gathered his Tyner teammates for one final time on the turf at Wayne Turner Field shortly after the Ram train had been derailed by a 28-7 loss to visiting Trousdale County Friday in a second round TSSAA 2A playoff battle and did the one thing he had been taught four years ago. The senior quarterback and Tennessee Titan Mr. Football semifinalist passed the torch.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to end it, but take a good look at the scoreboard, and don’t forget tonight.
Remember it in the spring when you are getting ready for next year and this offseason when you work out. It’s your turn to carry on the Tyner tradition,” Ryals told them. “It’s what we do at Tyner.”
And with that, Ryals, one the most dynamic players to wear the maroon and gold in a storied Tyner history, walked from the middle of the huddle and didn’t look back, stopping only minutes later to share a long embrace with his head coach Wayne Turner.
“When I was a freshman and we walked off the field for the final time, I remember the same speech, and it stuck with me and all the seniors out here tonight. It was our job to take that last defeat and build on it. I feel good about the young ones out here that they will do the same thing,” Ryals later explained.
The younger Rams will have some big footsteps to follow to match what Ryals and his fellow group of 14 seniors leaves behind, despite a night that just didn’t go Tyner’s way. The group finished with 30 wins; the sixth most wins all-time for a three-year period in Tyner’s proud football history. It included a state runner-up Ryal’s sophomore year which just happened to be the year after the speech he heard that cold November night in 2016.
“I hate that it ended tonight, but this is a special group. We got Tyner back to where it belonged on the big stage. We left our mark,” said all-state receiver Jeremiah Batiste, arguably the best receiver to play for the Rams.
Tyner ends the season at 8-4 on the heels of back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in a dozen years.
“This group has a lot to be proud of, no doubt about it. I appreciate everything they’ve done, and they represented Tyner with all they had, and did it the right way. Tonight was just one of those nights we couldn’t get over the hump. The thing that I was afraid of most happened: they were able to run it and eat the clock. It was frustrating,” said Turner, who ended his 28th year at the Tyner helm.
A year after handing Turner and the Rams their worst-ever defeat (35-0) in 61 playoff games, the nine-time state champion Trousdale program, stuck with what it does best: ground and pound. The Jackets (10-1) rushed the ball 59 times for 308 yards on the ground, and did it in a way that severely hampered Tyner’s potent offense. The Rams came in to the game averaging 53 points in their eight wins, but Trousdale’s ball control unit forced Tyner to abandon its running attack. Tyner finished the night with just 23 rushing yards on 21 attempts, and ran only three offensive plays in the third period.
“We knew we didn’t have the element of surprise on our side this year after them getting to see us last year, but the plan was still the same. Ryals and Batiste are two of the best players not only in East Tennessee, but the entire state. You won’t find two better than those two, but the best way to slow them down was to keep it away from them, and we did that tonight,” said Trousdale coach Blake Satterfield.
In last year’s loss, the Jackets limited Tyner to nine yards on the ground and just 77 overall in building a 21-0 first quarter lead. Last night, the second-ranked Trousdale squad found the sledding a bit tougher, but led 14-0 at the half. After scoring on its opening drive, Trousdale got a fourth-down stop at midfield with 1:28 left before the half, and seemed content to run it out. Tailback Cameron Rankins had other plans, though, busting loose on a third-down play, breaking a tackle in the secondary and scooting 43 yards for the score with just seven seconds left in the half. It was one of six third-down conversions for the Jackets to go along with a fourth-down conversion.
“That was a back breaker. We should have been down just one score at halftime, and then we missed a tackle, and it was 14-0. That made things more difficult because you don’t get many opportunities with them when they get that run game going and eating the clock. It definitely made things easier for them,” Turner admitted.
Rankins had 103 yards at halftime on 13 carries, all of them straight up the gut. He finished with 139 on 24 carries. The Rams, at times, stiffened on the middle runs, in fact, limiting the Jackets to four yards or less on 29 of the 59 totes. But just when they got things going, selling out to get more bodies on the inside, speedy Kobe Ford would break free on an outside run. Ford had 102 yards in the second half, scored three the Jackets’ TDs, and finished with 143 yards on 13 carries.
Ford’s 48-yard run two plays after the Rams had pulled to within 21-7 in the fourth period, all but sealed the deal. Ford’s final carry, an 8-yard scamper for score with 2:41 left finished it off.
Ryals and Batiste did give the home folks one final show to remember them by, connecting on a 12-yard score on fourth down for the lone TD. Ryals scrambled from the rush and eluded defenders by rolling all the way back past the 30-yard line, and just as he was being tackled lobbed it up in the corner of the end zone where Batiste leapt to make the grab. It was a catch reminiscent of the magical one he had to send the state title game two years ago into overtime in the waning seconds.
Ryals wound up completing 16 of 31 passes for 185 yards, and Batiste finished his career with four catches for 41 yards. He also had a circus catch in the end zone on a Hail Mary late but the referee ruled it incomplete although it appeared the ball never touched the ground.
“We thought we could throw on them, and we probably left some plays out there in the first half that we had opportunities on, but again, they do such a good job pursuing the ball as a team, and they are hostile and aggressive as a team when they get there,” Turner added.
Trousdale has allowed just 62 points in 11 games this year with five shutouts and will move into the quarterfinals where it will play Watertown, the lone team to beat them this year.
TROUSDALE COUNTY 7 7 0 14 – 28
TYNER ACADEMY 0 0 0 7 – 7
TC – Kobe Ford 10 run (Heath Chasse kick) ();54, 1st)
TC – Cameron Rankins 43 run (Heath Chasse kick) (0.07, 2nd)
TC – Kobe Ford 2 run (Heath Chasse kick) (11:53, 4th)
TY – Jeremiah Batiste 12 pass from Maravious Ryals (Alejandro LeZuleta kick) (6:31, 4th)
TC – Kobe Ford 8 run (Heath Chasse kick) (2:41, 4th)
TC STATS TY
15 1st Downs 13
59-308 Rush 21-23
22 Pass 185
330 Total 208
1-1-0 Passes 16-31-1
8-75 Penalties 2-15
2-31.0 Punts 3-20.0
2-0 Fumbles 3-0
Rushing: Kobe Ford 13-143, Cameron Rankins 24-139, George Stewart 6-16, Ben Chumley 3-11, Sebastian Linarez 1-(-2) (TC); Kamden Edwards 1-1, Martavius Ryals 6-(-20), RaShun Evans 4-15, Jeremiah Sawyer 5-26, Ronald Neal 4-6, Jeremiah Batiste 1-(-11) (TY).
Passing: Keenan Burnley 1-1-0 22 yards (TC); Martavius Ryals 16-31-1 185 yards (TY).
Receiving: TarvariousCaliborne 1-22 (TC); Jeremiah Batiste 4-41, Kamden Edwards 2-23, RaShun Evans 2-25, Keyonis Trammell 3-22, Kameron Dozier 2-31, Ronald Neal 3-43 (TY).
Records: Trousdale County (10-1) Tyner (8-4).
(Contact James Beach via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @beachnut1134)