Signal Mountain was trying to forget last week. Tyner was reminiscent of its glory days.
With an offense triggered by big plays and a defense keyed by big hits, the Tyner Rams opened their season with an impressive 33-24 win that did the unthinkable.
No, not upsetting the Eagles, who are 0-2. The Rams' complete, thorough and physical performance made old-school coach Wayne Turner smile. Widely.
"I'm pleased. Really pleased," Turner said. "This felt like some of those old-time Tyner teams.
"This team has some character and a lot of kids that want to do well."
Yes, they do. The Rams came at Signal in waves and from all angles. They used three quarterbacks. Eight players carried the ball, and five averaged better than 5 yards per carry. Five defenders had at least one tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
And while the consistency and balance of the Rams was noteworthy, there still were some highlights.
Tyner and Signal traded first-quarter touchdowns -- the Rams getting a 59-yard score from Kalan Hardley; the Eagles answering with Robert Turner's 13-yard run. After a bad snap on a Tyner punt, Signal took a 10-6 lead on Houston McClain's 34-yard field goal.
After McClain's kick with 1:35 left in the first half, a big run by Antonio Williams moved Tyner inside Signal territory. With time winding out, Rams quarterback Willie Stewart faked spiking the ball, looked left for a brief moment and rolled right and followed the blocks of Edward Duckett and Haasan Miller into the end zone for a 16-yard score with just 2.0 seconds on the clock.
Tyner never trailed after that.
"We block for each other and we believe in each other," Stewart said. "I told [Duckett] to go left because no one was over there, and they made some great blocks.
"We know some people are going to be surprised when they see this score, but we knew we could do it."
Said Signal coach Bill Price: "That was a huge play. It's frustrating."
The Eagles ran almost twice as many plays as the Rams, and Kentucky-pledged quarterback Reese Phillips tried to sling the Eagles back in it late.
But every time Phillips, who threw for 192 yards on 22-of-33 passing despite at least five drops, led the Eagles down the field, the Rams answered.
Tyner's lead ballooned to 18-10 on bullish and boisterous fullback Lamonte Solomon's 10-yard run. Phillips' 24-yard run pulled Signal back to 18-16 and appeared to turn the momentum.
But before the Signal band had finished the fight song, Miller's 94-yard kickoff return delivered a knockout blow that was hammered home by Joseph Sturkey's 80-yard touchdown run.
"All I saw was the goal post," Sturkey said of the massive hole on the back-breaking draw play. "We knew we had to play physical and play together. That's Tyner football, and that's what we worked on all summer."
Seems like old times for the Rams.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...