A day after being named a semifinalist for the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football award among his class 2A peers, Tyner’s Martavius Ryals most certainly was feeling a little amped heading into the Rams playoff opener against visiting Westmoreland Friday night. After all, he knew all the visitors’ eyes would be focused to see what merited the designation as one of the state’s top five 2A players.
Adrenalin, however, can be both good and bad.
Ryals’ was intercepted on the first offensive play of the game by Eagle linebacker Collin Casteel on a high pass over the middle.
Three plays later, though, it was Ryals turning the adrenalin into a big hit on Westmoreland back Seth Woodard and teammate RaShun Evans scooped it up en route to a 56-yard fumble return for score, the first of three Ram defensive TDs, in a 54-0 throttling of the visitors.
“We were going for it all on the first play, and they blitzed so I rushed it and was a little too pumped with the throw, and it sailed on me. No biggie. You don’t have time to put your head down out here, and I just wanted to get the play back somehow, someway, and was fortunate to do it pretty quickly,” said Ryals.
The big hit set the tone for what head coach Wayne Turner was one of the most physical halves of football the Rams have played this year.
“Ta-Ta (Ryals) is all about making plays, and he makes as many on defense as he does on offense. It set the tone, and I was really proud of the way we got after them the first half. It’s playoff football, and if you blink, you’ll find yourself getting ready for basketball season in a hurry,” said Turner, collecting his 32nd playoff win in his 28th season at the Ram helm.
Tyner (8-3) used a flurry of big plays from both sides of the ball, jumping to a 21-0 lead while holding the Eagles to negative yards (minus-3) just 10 minutes into the game clock. After the early score, Tyner forced a punt on a 3-and-out, and Jeremiah Sawyer went 37 yards for score on the third play afterwards. Westmoreland’s next possession resulted in a interception by Kameron Dozier. Ryals accounted for 46 yards on the ensuing drive which ended with Kamden Edwards getting the first of his two TDs.
“Tonight was all about taking care of business. It’s all business from here on out. We came in with a winning mindset, and we wanted to take care of it from the onset,” said Sawyer, one four Ram backs with 30 yards or more.
Tyner scored three more times in the second quarter to end any doubt about this one, and it was the defense that set up all three scores. Tyner stopped Westmoreland on a fourth-and-1 play at midfield to start the second period, and Edwards scored from the 2 after Evans broke off a a 57-yard run on a third-down to make it 27-0.
Terrence Holland forced a fumble that Dre Ridley scooped and scored with from 40 yards away, and Sawyer fell on the Eagles third lost fumble of the half and Evans finished it off with a 20-yard dash to make it 41-zip at the break. Evans wound up with 84 yards on just four carries to lead Tyner’s 200-yard ground game.
And with the clock running via the mercy rule, it looked as if Westmoreland might escape what could have been a real pounding. The Rams ran just five offensive plays in the second half total, yet, but got a pair of big strikes to add two more scores in what turned into the worst playoff loss in Westmoreland’s proud 48 playoff game history.
No one makes big plays any better than Jeremiah Batiste, the Rams’ all-state receiver. Usually it’s on the receiving end of Ryals’ passes, but the Miami (Ohio)-commit put on a YouTube silly 72-yard interception return for score in the third period on the only play the rams touched the ball in the quarter. Batiste intercepted it near the Tyner sideline, zigged all the way across the field to say hello to the Eagle sideline before sagging his way back to the Tyner side to finish it off.
“He’s just a heck of a player. He’s the best player out there and he never complains about not getting the ball on offense. What he does do, is occupy the corner and the safety almost every play, and he softens up defenses for our big plays. That’s a credit to him,” said Turner.
“I just want to make plays for my team. I was mad I missed an interception right before the one I got, and when I did get the one, I made sure to do something with it. I just want to do whatever I can, whether it’s catching balls, blocking, returning kicks, it’s all good,” said Batiste, a Mr. Football finalists last season.
Tyner’s final score came with Batiste taking two defenders to his side of the field, leaving Kameron Dozier free on a 50-yard perfect strike from Ryals.
Tyner will host Trousdale County, a 42-0 winner over Marion County in a rematch of a game the Rams lost last year on their home turf.
“I expect they’ll come out ready to punch us again if we’re not ready for them,” said Turner, noting that every Ram player remembers the 35-0 loss well.
Tyner has certainly been on a roll since losing to Baylor in October. The Rams have averaged 56.5 points in four straight wins now. Tyner is now 15-15 in first-round games under Turner, and last night’s win was his 60th playoff game. Tyner is 32-28 overall in the playoffs and Turner had directed every win.
“We’ve been on a roll. Offensively we’ve been clicking, defensively we’ve been getting better. You’ve got to get the first one, and it usually gives you a feel for the atmosphere of playoffs. Friday there should be no excuses,” Turner added.
Tyner limited the Eagles to just 100 total yards of offense for the game with 90 rushing on 33 carries. Tyson Leduc led the Eagles with 81 of those on 13 carries, but the rest of the team was limited to just nine yards on 20 rushes.
on everyone wants to see what one of the five best players in 2A
WESTMORELAND 0 0 0 0 – 0
TYNER ACADEMY 21 20 7 6 – 54
TY – RaShun Evans 56 fumble return (Grant Brooks kick) (10:34, 1st)
TY – Jeremiah Sawyer 37 run (Grant Brooks kick) (7:14, 1st)
TY – Kamden Edwards 1 run (Grant Brooks kick) (1:22, 1st)
TY – Kamden Edwards 2 run (kick failed) (8:50, 2nd)
TY – Dre Ridley 40 fumble return (Martavious Ryals run) (3:35, 2nd)
TY – RaShun Evans 20 run (kick blocked) (0:25, 2nd)
TY – Jeremiah Batiste 72 interception return (Grant Brooks kick) (7:05, 3rd)
TY – Kameron Dozier 50 pass from Martavious Ryals (kick blocked) (4:44, 4th)
WM STATS TY
5 1st Downs 11
33-90 Rush 20-200
10 Pass 124
100 Total 324
2-7-2 Passes 5-9-1
5-67 Penalties 11-105
4-36.5 Punts 0-0.0
4-3 Fumbles 2-1
Rushing: 13-81, (W); Kamden Edwards 5-290, Martavius Ryals 2-38, RaShun Evans 4-84, Jeremiah Sawyer 4-44, Ronald Neal 3-18 (TY).
Passing: Ryker Hodge 2-7-2 10 yards (W); Martavius Ryals 5-9-1 124 yards (TY).
Receiving: Quintons Sizemore 1-5, Collin Casteel 1-5 (W); Jeremiah Batiste 5-59, Kameron Dozier 1-50, Ronald Neal 1-15 (TY).
Records: Westmoreland (5-6), Tyner (8-3).
Next up: Trousdale County at Tyner, 2A second round.
(Contact James Beach via email at email@example.com or Twitter @beachnut1134)