Joaquin dominates homecoming, grounds Hawkins, 56-0

2017 Joaquin Rams (4-1)

Sept. 1 L @ Tenaha 23-22

Sept. 8 W vs. Maud 58-7

Sept. 15 W vs. Lovelady 43-22

Sept. 22 W @ Huntington 47-0

Sept. 29 W vs. Hawkins 56-0**

Oct. 6 BYE

Oct. 13 @ Alto* 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 20 @ Shelbyville* 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 27 vs. Carlisle* 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 @ San Augustine* 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 10 vs. Cushing* 7:30 p.m.

*District game ** Homecoming

GAME STORY:

Going into tonight’s annual Homecoming game against Hawkins, Rams head coach Wade Lawson was concerned about one thing: distractions.

Distractions from all of the homecoming festivities, like the parade, the homecoming court, and the various events during the week that students participate in.

Then, there is the distraction of district play starting right around the corner, and a looming showdown with longtime nemesis Alto to kick off league play.

If the Rams were distracted, they didn’t show it, as they scored on their first four possessions to jump out to a 27-0 first quarter lead. They added two more scores in the second period, before a running clock made short work of the second half. The clock proved much more effective at slowing the Ram offense down than did the Hawk defense.

Meanwhile, the Ram defense had a record-breaking night, holding the Hawks’ option attack to 32 total yards and only two first downs.

The Hawks snapped the ball once on the Joaquin side of midfield, and that came after the Rams only turnover of the night. The Rams also forced three turnovers in the game, which puts them at plus eight in turnover margin for the season.

Coach Lawson was pleased with the dominant performance: “I thought our coaches put together a really good game plan, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Stopping the veer option is tough, especially when you’re dealing with kids that have never seen it. But our kids did a really good job of playing assignment football, and the result is a shutout.”

The Rams started off the contest on defense, and quickly forced a Hawk punt, which netted a total of three yards, setting the Big Blue Machine up at the Hawkins 44 yard line.

Senior quarterback Tray Wilkerson capped off a five-play drive with a one yard sneak for a touchdown. The point after attempt failed, giving the Rams a 6-0 lead with 9:38 left in the first period. The Hawks picked up their first first down of the night, and promptly put the ball on the ground.

Senior nosetackle Zach Bell pounced on the loose pigskin at the Hawk 26. Two plays later, Connor Bragg scored on a reverse from 20 yards out. Hunter Gates dashed in for the two point conversion, making the score 14-0 with 5:27 still left on the first quarter clock. A holding penalty and a tackle in the backfield by Kase Yates put the Hawks in 3rd and 28, a situation they were clearly not comfortable with. Akim Richmond’s pass was intercepted by Wilkerson at the Hawk 17 yard line. Two Yates runs were all the Rams needed to stretch the score to 21-0 after Jesus Bravo drilled the point after.

Another three-and-out led to another bad Hawk punt, which set the Rams up at their own 46. Yates reeled off consecutive runs of 27 and 21 yards to set up a six yard dash to push the lead to 27-0. The kick sailed wide left with 50 seconds left in the opening period. The Hawks elected to go for a 4th and four from their own 41, which resulted in a turnover on downs that set the Rams up with a short field again.

Yates scored two plays later on a 37 yard run to stretch the lead some more. Bragg added the two-pointer, giving the Rams a 35-0 advantage with 9:52 left in the first half. A penalty on the touchdown was enforced on the kickoff, resulting in Bravo teeing up at his own 25. He then executed a beautiful onsides kick, which he recovered at the 37 yard line.

Wilkerson got his second interception of the night on a long pass attempt by the Hawks, which gave the Rams the ball at their own five yard line. They moved 95 yards in ten plays, with Hunter Gates picking up gains of 27, and 17 yards, as well as a 36-yarder on the touchdown. Bravo booted an extra point to make the score 42-0 as the teams headed to the locker room. The clock started running with the second half kickoff, which the Rams took and immediately drove 57 yards in eight plays, which Gates finished off with a three yard run. Tre Burns finished off the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 14 yard run. Bravo’s kick was good again, leaving the final score at 56-0.

The Ram offense put up 444 yards on the night, which looks even more impressive when you consider the second half was shortened substantially by the running clock. Kase Yates led the way with 13 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Hunter Gates picked up 134 yards on ten attempts, while scoring twice. Connor Bragg added 53 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Tre Burns contributed 34 yards and a score on only two attempts.

Gates deflected credit to his offensive line. “I’ve got good blockers in front of me. I know when I get the ball, they’re going to put out and open up holes, so all I have to do is follow them.” Defensively, the Rams were led by junior linebacker Trenton Ramsey, who made nine tackles on the evening. Tre Burns had a huge game from his defensive end spot, registering seven tackles, two for losses, and a fumble recovery. Burns was quick to credit his coaches and teammates for his big performance. “I just want to thank God and our coaches.

They put together a good game plan, gave us what we needed to stop them cold. Our defensive line played really good tonight. Our goal was to not let them past the fifty yard line, and I don’t think they got there.”

The Rams will use their bye week to rest up and heal some bumps and bruises before they head to Alto for their 2A-Div. I District 11 opener on October 13th.