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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Tyner junior running back Jeremiah Sawyer follows behind a lead block from Keshawn Brown during a first-round TSSAA Class 2A playoff game against Westmoreland. The Rams won 54-0 and will face Trousdale County in the second round at home next Friday.
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Tyner vs. Westmoreland

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With a ram-like mentality, Tyner came out exactly how veteran coach Wayne Turner wanted to begin the Class 2A state playoffs.

The Rams forced five turnovers and scored three times off them in Friday's 54-0 home victory over Westmoreland.

"The defense we played early on was more physical and aggressive than I have seen all season," said Turner, whose team has prevailed by an average of 47 points in its eight wins. "We really caused a lot of those turnovers. You have to give our defense a lot of credit tonight. They shut Westmoreland down."

Mr. Football semifinalist Martavius Ryals made up for an early mistake in the passing game as the team's leading tackler jarred the ball loose for senior teammate RaShun Evans to scoop and take down the sideline 60 yards for the opening score.

Westmoreland (5-6) totaled only 100 yards on 38 plays and did not make it past Tyner's 46-yard line.

Jeremiah Batiste, a Mr. Football finalist last year, intercepted a deep pass down the left sideline at his own 28 and crossed the field twice, leaving defenders in the dust, as he scored on the return.

"We wanted to come out and make a statement defensively," Batiste said. "I wanted to help provide us a spark on defense and special teams. But RaShun's early score definitely sparked us. Coach always preaches hit them in the mouth first, and that's exactly what we did tonight."

The Rams' hard-to-predict offense again went with a backfield by committee as Jeremiah Sawyer and Evans were freed on big runs by great blocking up front.

Both did all their damage in the first half as they combined for 128 yards on seven carries with touchdown runs of 37 and 20 yards. Tyner (8-3) finished with 199 rushing yards and threw for 124.

A 57-yard burst by Evans also set up bruising back Kamden Edwards to reach the end zone. Edwards rumbled for back-to-back touchdowns to build a 27-0 lead with 8:50 left before halftime.

Dre Ridley also had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, while Kameron Dozier added an impressive interception and burned defenders late for a 50-yard strike from Ryals to finish the scoring.

After ending their 2018 season in a 35-0 loss to Trousdale County, the Rams will challenge the same Yellow Jackets next Friday. Trousdale County beat Marion County 42-0 on Friday night, improving to 9-1 and ending the Warriors' season at 3-8.

"It fires us up to have a chance at revenge next week," Edwards said. "We have to come out with the mindset that we are going to win the dogfight. We have to hit hard and focus on playing smart football."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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