In a few months down the road when the Tyner Rams are readying themselves for a TSSAA playoff run that most assuredly awaits, Friday night’s Region 3-2A battle against a very stout Bledsoe County team will be one to look back upon with a little more pride than the disgruntled reflection Coach Wayne Turner imparted upon the team in postgame remarks.
There are few teams which will line up against the Warriors of Pikeville and live to tell about a sound 32-14 victory which firmly plants the Rams atop the region it has owned for most of the past quarter century.
The fact a three-score triumph came with plenty of reasons for Turner to be critical is both a testament to what this Tyner team can be as well as a tip of the hat to what Bledsoe County brings to the table.
The Rams (2-0, 1-0) had three long touchdowns called back via penalty, got pushed around at times by the Warriors front, dropped another sure score on a long pass, and lost a time of possession battle 30:17 to 17:43, yet never truly looked as if they had a worry in the world about losing their grip on this battle.
Bledsoe County head coach Dewayne Tabor, in his first year leading the Warriors after a very successful stint as the offensive coordinator at Georgia 3A powerhouse Emanuel County, said it best after all was said and done on the field which bears Wayne Tuner’s name.
“They’ll overwhelm you at times. A team like Tyner makes plays, and you have to be able to flush the ones that go against you. We didn’t do a very good job of responding,” said Tabor, who was part of two state Georgia champs and a runner-up squad in his 14 years there.
Overwhelm is an understatement. Five Tyner backs had 30 yards or more rushing despite only rushing it 25 times for 211 yards. And of course, there is the Jeremiah Batiste factor. The speedy, sure-handed all-state receiver touched the ball just seven times catching five passes for 147 yards and having two other long TD catches nullified by penalty.
“That’s the thing about this team. We have multiple weapons and every time we get the ball we really think we are going to score. It was disappointing the number of penalties which really set us back tonight, but we’ll get back to practice and fix those things,” said senior quarterback Martavius Ryals, who pitched it around 167 yards on just seven completions.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We took some steps back tonight after taking some forward last week, so I guess we’re back to square one. We are striving for perfection and when you do that you have a chance to capture excellence, and we did neither tonight,” said Turner afterwards. “That’s a good team we beat tonight and they play hard and they’ll make us better when it is all said and done, but we have got to stop being lazy and move our feet. That’s what caused those holding penalties.”
Bledsoe came in with a plan and an attitude thanks to two impressive wins to open the season and were looking to knock off the fourth-ranked Rams. The Warriors took the opening kickoff and marched it 63 yards in 14 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Bledsoe converted a long third-down conversion and two fourth-down plays, including Colby Rogers 3-yard run in the impressive drive. The Rams, meanwhile ran just eight plays in the quarter and had the ball a mere 2:21 in the stanza. Bledsoe couldn’t have drawn it up any better. Batiste broke from double-coverage in the first drive for a 53-yard score, but it was axed by the first of 14 Tyner penalties.
The Ram train found a little more energy in the second quarter and got two Ronald Neal scoring runs (7 and 27 yards) to send Tyner to the dressing room up 14-7. It could have been worse, but Tyner had a 33-yard TD pass to Batiste called back for holding, and then Camden Edwards went 43 yards on a short pass on the next play that was erased by a yellow flag before the half.
“The penalties really slowed us down, but we made a concerted effort at the half to fix those things. We can’t be the ones stopping ourselves,” said Batiste of the first half.
Tyner had a very productive third period, though, and it began with Batiste taking a short swing pass in which he showed why he had the fastest 100-meter time in the state last track season. A Bledsoe defender closed on him hard and by the time he reached him, he barely got a finger on his jersey as Batiste took it 50 yards for the score and it was 20-7 just 1:24 into the final half.
“As soon as I caught that one, I knew it was going to the crib,” laughed Batiste of play.
The Warriors had a chance with a long drive to get it inside the Ram 10, but Anthony Bell and Deviante Felder teamed for a sack on a fourth down play to end the threat. Four plays later, Tyner had it in the end zone again as Ryals kept twice for gains of six and 20 yards, Edwards took it another 10 before RaShun Evans sprinted to the house from 35 yards away and it was 26-7.
Tyner added a final score on the first play of the final period when Jeremiah Sawyer crashed in from the 3, but Bledsoe did a nice job of keeping it from getting out of hand with a grinding attack in the fourth. Bledsoe scored on a 34-yard hookup between Harmon Keith and Rogers and limited Tyner to just four rushing yards in the final period to keep it respectful.
Tyner has now won 19 straight against the boys from Pikeville and most of them haven’t been close, but Tabor has the Warriors perched for a playoff run of their own.
“I’m proud of the effort. We did some good things. A team like Tyner can get away from you in a hurry, and we just didn’t make enough plays, but we’re getting there,” Tabor said.
Bledsoe will try to get it righted next week at Grundy county while the Rams travel to Howard in what should be another battle.
BLEDSOE CO 7 0 0 7 – 14
TYNER 0 14 12 6 – 32
BC – Colby Rogers 3 run (Triston Boring kick) (4:07, 1st)
TY – Ronald Neal 7 run (Grant Brooks kick) (10:05, 2nd)
TY – Ronald Neal 27 run (Grant Brooks kick) (3:13, 2nd)
TY – Jeremiah Batiste 50 yard pass from Martavius Ryals (kick failed) (10:36, 3rd)
TY – Rashun Evans 35 run (pass failed) (3:14, 3rd)
TY – Jeremiah Sawyer 3 run (kick blocked) (11:56, 4th)
BC – Colby Rogers 34 pass from Harmon Keith (Triston Boring kick) (10:10, 4th)
BC STATS TY
13 1st Downs 14
40-164 Rush 25-211
80 Pass 167
244 Total 378
6-15-0 Passes 7-16-0
7-88 Penalties 14-120
3-35.3 Punts 4-37.0
2-0 Fumbles 0-0
Rushing: Colby Rogers 14-80. River Swafford 8-55, Cadillac Siever 12-26, Tyrell Richardson 2-13, Harmon Keith 5-(minus 10) (BC); Kamden Edwards 4-50, Martavius Ryals 6-46, RaShun Evans 4-40, Jeremiah Sawyer 6-38, Ronald Neal 4-30 (TY).
Passing: Harmon Keith 6-15-0 80 yards (BC); Martavius Ryals 7-15-0 167 yards, Ronald Neal 0-1-0 0 yards (TY).
Receiving: Colby Rogers 1-34, Cadillac Siever 2-17, Camden Smith 1-13, Kaidence Thomas 1-11 (BC); Jeremiah Batiste 5-147, RaShun Evans 2-15, Camden Edwards 1-5 (TY).
Records: Bledsoe County (2-1, 0-1 Region 3-2A) Tyner (2-0, 1-0 Region 3-2A).
(Contact James Beach via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @beachnut1134)