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Boyd-Buchanan's E. J. Matthews (5) dives for a extra yards as Tyner's Jarvan DeLoach (4) moves in for the stop. The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers visited the Tyner Rams in TSSAA football action Saturday September 18, 2015.

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Bucs surprise Tyner with 40-7 runaway

It wasn't such a surprise that Boyd-Buchanan won, but the final score wasn't what anybody at Tyner's Wayne Turner Field anticipated.

Ahead 14-7 at halftime thanks to Jeremy Borders' 54-yard punt return and a 1-yard run by quarterback Cooper Hodge, the visiting Buccaneers erupted for 26 second-half points and a 40-7 victory in a battle of Region 3-2A unbeatens.

The game sets the stage for another region showdown for the Bucs (4-0, 2-0), who will host unbeaten and top-ranked Marion County next week.

"We're going to enjoy this one tonight and maybe tomorrow and then start getting ready for Marion County," Bucs coach Grant Reynolds said. "Tyner's a good physical team, and I'm really proud of our kids for the way they came in and represented our school."

Tyner could mount little in the way of offense, scoring its lone touchdown on a 5-yard run by Emmanuel Moss with 0:32 left in the first half. The score came after Chris Hawkins blocked a Bucs punt.

The Rams were held to minus rushing yards — with tackles-for-loss and bad-snap yardage added in — and just 74 passing yards.

Among the defensive leaders were Hodge, whose interception led to Boyd-Buchanan's second score, Will Watkins, Tret Gilley, Kohl Hence, E.J. Matthews, Jack Keebler and Kell Stott. Hodge also had two tackles for loss, and Stott's fumble recovery led to the Bucs' final TD — a 2-yard run by E.J. Matthews.

"The guys did an excellent job on defense," Reynolds said. "It's a testament to the preparation of our coaches."

Matthews was active on both sides of the ball, and while Tyner kept him from breaking the long runs, he finished with three TDs, all in the second half on runs of 1, 2 and 2 yards.

The other Boyd-Buchanan score came on an 8-yard run by Isaiah Dillard.

He didn't have the best passing night of his career, but Hodge was easily the Bucs' leading rusher, at one point going over 100 yards before a couple of lost-yardage plays.

"Cooper is whatever you want him to be," Reynolds responded when asked if Hodge was a better linebacker, quarterback or running back. "He's one of the toughest competitors I've had at Boyd-Buchanan."

Added Tyner coach Turner: "He's a big ol' strong boy that can run the football. He's good anywhere you want to put him, just a good athlete."

The Rams were without two offensive line starters and also lost running back/linebacker Shannon Spralls to an apparent neck injury in the third quarter.

"That was not going to make the difference," Turner said. "You have to give a lot of credit to Grant, his coaching staff and his team tonight. They were more aggressive and more physical. I was surprised that we played as timid as we did."

Spralls was rolled off the field and taken to a hospital, but Turner said first indications are "that he's going to be all right."

As for his team's performance, Reynolds wouldn't say he was surprised.

"We're better than we were last week," he said. "That's what we're building on, but I think we've found an identity. Our defense is keeping us in games and our offense is beginning to put the ball in the end zone."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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