Tyner's Javell Woodruff saw the hole and sprinted through the middle of it, then lowered the boom and high-stepped past a defender in the second level for a spirit-breaking 57-yard run midway through the second quarter Friday night at Brainerd.
Woodruff's tough running helped the Rams explode to a fast start in a 30-6 victory over the Panthers. The senior running back had 106 yards on nine first-half carries, two of which went for scores to help build a 30-point halftime lead.
"We are fortunate to have a talented bunch of running backs," first-year Tyner coach Scott Chandler said of a group who ran for 167 yards on 17 carries in the opening two quarters.
"Javell had a great night and is really hard to bring down. I don't know if anyone this season has brought him down on first contact. He's played really well, and we are really pleased with the way we attacked the holes and came out in the first half."
The Rams' first-string defense and special teams play helped spark the offense in the first half, too.
A fearsome edge-rushing duo of seniors Latavious Conyers and Anthony Sims had drive-ending sacks, and junior safety ZaShun Hubbard (three pass deflections) lowered his shoulder for a big hit to spark his sideline. Jersey Chubb also got in the backfield and fired up the stingy defense with big hits in the first half.
Tyner's Marcus Lewis returned a punt 38 yards down the left sideline to set up a touchdown before halftime. Lewis also scored on a 2-point conversion catch, and Ben Blackburn and Josh Jackson ran for 2-point conversions.
Junior newcomer Jarius Cameron starred in the victory for the Rams (3-0) as he broke defenders' ankles on a 32-yard run and also made an impressive leaping interception in the second half. Cameron and Deonta Talor each complemented Woodruff well as both had rushing touchdowns. The three-headed backfield has combined for 14 touchdowns already this season.
"I used to play in middle school and little league, but this is my first year back to playing football," said Cameron, who is also a standout basketball player for Arts & Sciences. "I went to the jamboree this year and saw the atmosphere and really enjoyed it. I wanted to join them.
"It feels great to have a night like this. It really fires me up and my teammates. We have to finish better, though."
Brainerd (1-2) became the first team this season to score on Tyner's first-string defense when Diamond Bates showed off his athleticism on a touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Rams begin Region 3-2A competition next week with a home matchup against Polk County.
"The season is just getting started for us," Woodruff said. "We are excited and ready to improve again. We will work hard again Monday to Thursday to get ready for our next game."