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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / A trio of Tyner defenders gang-tackle Howard's Eric Johnson during Saturday's game at Reggie White Field.
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Howard over Tyner

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In only the second game at its new home field, Howard's high school football team made history.

Thanks to a swarming defense in the first half, the Hustlin' Tigers built enough of a cushion to withstand a late rally and knock off rival Tyner for the first time in program history, posting a 27-19 nonregion win Saturday night at Reggie White Field.

Howard (3-1) jumped out to a 21-0 lead but needed a 79-yard scoop-and-score by senior Dicorius Knight to put away Class 2A's third-ranked Rams, snapping a 24-game series losing streak that dated to 1975.

"I thought our kids played well," Howard coach John Starr said. "We knew we had to avoid giving up the big plays to their offense, and we did that for the most part. Our defense stepped up and got after them, especially in the first half and then late when we really needed them most."

After Tyner (2-1) had rallied to within two points and was driving for the potential go-ahead score, Knight picked up a lateral that skidded across the turf. As everyone else stood by, thinking it was an incomplete pass, Knight heard his coach yelling at him to run.

"Coach Starr always preaches for us to play to the whistle, and I didn't hear a whistle so I started to run, and then when I heard him yelling for me to go, I just took off," Knight said. "That's all I was thinking, just how we always hear about never quitting on a play, so that's what I did.

"This feels great. To be a senior and be a part of the team that finally beat them, that tells me that no matter what happens in life, you never quit. You just keep going hard."

Howard was able to seize momentum early by forcing turnovers on five of Tyner's first six possessions. Eric Johnson scored on first-quarter runs of 1, 5 and 36 yards to put the Hustlin' Tigers ahead 21-0.

The Rams' first score came on a Dre Ridley 89-yard interception return just before halftime. After being held to minus-14 yards of total offense in the first half, Tyner began its second-half rally with a 60-yard touchdown run by Martavius Ryals, followed on the next possession by a 48-yard touchdown pass from Ryals to Jeremiah Batiste, closing within 21-19 after a failed 2-point try.

The Rams then drove from Howard's 45 to the 16 before the game-deciding turnover.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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