Tyner's roster lists Willie Stewart at a generous 5-foot-8, 155 pounds. Regardless, the diminutive junior played a large role in helping the Rams maintain their late-season rally toward a possible playoff run with a 38-6 District 6-AA win at Central Thursday.
Stewart connected with De'Derick Calloway on two long touchdown passes in the first half and also intercepted Purple Pounders quarterback LaDarrius Jackson twice before halftime as the Rams raced out to a 32-0 lead by intermission.
"I just threw it up and put it on the money to let him him run under it and make a play a couple of times," Stewart said, nodding toward Calloway. "Even after the way we started the season, our goal was still to win the district and get to the playoffs."
It was Tyner's third win in its last four games, and the Rams (3-4, 3-1) remain just one game behind district leader Red Bank, which also won Thursday. Those teams face off in the final week of the regular season.
The Stewart-to-Calloway connection began and ended Tyner's first-half scoring barrage. Their first scoring hook-up covered 41 yards midway through the first quarter and the second covered 55 yards with 15 seconds left before halftime. In between, Calloway returned a punt 34 yarsd for a score and Joseph Sturkey broke free for a 22-yard TD run.
While Tyner's offense and special teams were putting points on the board, the Rams defense made sure Central didn't score until the outcome had been decided. The Pounders were held to 16 yards of offense in the first half and ended the game with just 50 total yard, including minus-1 rushing.
Central was held to no gain or minus yards on 35 of its 59 snaps.
"Our defensive front was strong the whole game," Rams coach Wayne Turner said. "We did an excellent job of controlling the line in the first half, and even though we let down on offense in the second half, the defense was solid."
The game was sloppy as the teams combined for nine fumbles, four interceptions, 20 incompletions, 14 penalties and a 22.5-yard punting average.
"We take a lot of pride in what this program has done through the years, so this was a huge win to keep our playoff hopes going," Calloway said. "It was a really big deal for us to jump on them early."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...