Lomnick-led line paces Tyner's showdown win
Last season, the Tyner Rams were dealt a harsh consolation prize for finishing as the District 6-AA runners-up. The Rams were sent to face state powerhouse Alcoa in the postseason's first round and were bounced quickly.
Friday night, with the 6-AA title and a favorable playoff seed hanging in the balance, the Rams left nothing to chance at Howard's Gaston Stadium.
"We saw what second place got you last year," Tyner coach Wayne Turner said after his team's impressively physical 27-6 win over the Hustlin' Tigers. "We've talked about that all year long and about taking care of our business."
Consider it handled.
The Rams (7-2, 6-0) unleashed their stable of running backs and found game-changing success running behind right tackle Marcus Lomnick. The offensive machine overpowered an aggressive Howard defense in the second half to extend a 12-6 halftime lead.
"They always are going to have great depth, so that's not any excuse," Howard coach Alvin Tarver said. "They just got going offensively and were extremely tough."
Tyner senior Sean Neal, who missed most of last week's win over Central with a concussion, returned to the lineup and ran wild in the second half against Howard (7-2, 5-1). Neal rushed for 87 of his game-high 109 yards and his touchdown after the intermission as the Rams dominated the final two quarters.
Neal's was a welcomed return - for the Rams offense and for the senior runner.
"I got cleared late Wednesday," Neal said. "We were more focused tonight, and last week was kind of a wake-up call.
"The line really opened up some holes and played extremely well."
Lomnick and the rest of Tyner's front created enough space for the Rams to rush for 207 yards on 42 carries. Following a familiar theme around Lomnick's lead, Eric Drake scored the game's first touchdown on a 15-yard reverse around the right side. Kevin Dorsett gave the Rams the lead for good on a 1-yard run, and Bobby Hendricks capped the scoring in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 7-yard run on the same play on which Neal scored - a power run off right tackle.
And as stout as the offensive line was, the Tyner defense was better.
"We've been pretty good defensively all year," Turner said. "That's kind of been how we've played. We knew this was going to be one of those head-knocker type of games."
Howard's touchdown drive covered just 25 yards after Kelvin Bowser's 64-yard kickoff return. After that, first downs were a notable accomplishment against the Rams, and points seemed somewhat preposterous.