Knights Cut Down Lumberjacks
Tyler Consolidated’s defense dominated the line of scrimmage early and never allowed a Lumberjack score until six minutes left in the game enroute to a 51-8 blasting of Valley on Friday night in Pine Grove.
The Lumberjacks led the Knights 10-8 in first downs and had 101 yards passing to the Knights 51, but Tyler had a huge advantage in overall yards 399 to 230, thanks mostly to sophomore sensation Mark Rucker who gained 163 yards on nine carries, caught four passes for 48 yards and scored five touchdowns, including a 65 yard kickoff return to open the second half.
Valley came into the game with a 5-3 record and hopes of increasing their chances of making the playoffs. The Knights however quickly showed their dominance as they forced the Lumberjacks to turn the ball over on their first three possession. With less than four minutes off the first quarter clock Griffin Phillips intercepted Valley quarterback Tyler Kocher’s pass and returned it to the 27 where he called his own number on first down and covered the distance to the end zone giving the Knights a lead they would never relinquish. Phillips connected with Rucker for the two point conversion for the 8-0 lead.
Valley took the ensuing kickoff and drove to the 27 yard line only to come up empty when the Silver Knights came away with their second interception of the night, giving them the ball back on the nine yard line, with 1:45 to go in the first. They then drove the ball 51 yards in nine plays giving the Knights a fist down at the 41. On the first play Phillips dropped back and found Rucker for a 41 yard touchdown with 10:02 left in the second period. The two point conversion attempt failed and the score stood at 14-0.
After another change of possession Rucker added his second score of the night when he broke free for a 70 yard scamper with 4:51 still showing in the second, Phillips added the extra point kick and it was now 21-0.
The Knights stopped Valley on their next possession and with only :31 seconds to play before halftime, senior Kyle Mason took a handoff and rambled 80 yards, sprinting past two defenders for the score.
Phillips hit Rucker on the conversion pass and the Knights took a commanding 29-0 halftime lead.
“They were clicking on all cylinders, Rucker is probably the fastest player we’ve seen besides Freddy Canary from South Harrison. And to only be a sophomore, that’s really impressive,” said Lumberjacks coach Logan Miller.
“Their coaches do a nice job of getting him the ball and they have two really good athletes in him and Phillips. We still have a chance to finish 6-4 which hasn’t happened too many times in the past years, so we still have a lot to play for. We are a senior laden team and I don’t have a problem with leadership, we’ll be alright.”
Tyler picked right up in the second half where they left off as Rucker took the kickoff all the way 65 yards to give the Knights a 36-0 lead, after Phillips added the extra point kick. Rucker added two more scores in the quarter on runs of one yard and another on a 46 yard burst to up the score to 51-0 with 2:50 to play in the third. Phillips added another extra point kick after the first one and Mason caught a two point conversion pass from Southerly to end the Knights scoring.
Valley got a score with 6:35 to play in the game on a one yard run by Kocher, and a two point conversion pass from Kocher to Lowe. Valley completed 14-22 passes, with two interceptions all by Kocher while Lowe had five receptions for 56 yards. Streets led the Lumberjacks rushing attack with 76 yards on 19 carries while Kocher gained 44 on 12 carries and a score.
The Knights 348 yards on the ground came on 163 by Rucker, Phillips had 82 on six totes and a score. Mason carried one time for 80 yards and a score and Hunter Forrester got 18 yards on four tries while Colby Buchanan gained five yards on two carries.
The Knights had four penalties for 30 yards and fumbled twice losing one. Valley fumbled five times losing threeand was penalized three times for 30 yards.
Gage Huffman had five solo tackles, plus a special team solo tackle for Tyler. Riley Leasure led the Knights defense with nine tackles including one for a loss. Buchanan had four solo tackles, two assists and recovered a fumble. Rucker and Nate Lancaster also had fumble recoveries. Lancaster also added three solo and five assists plus two tackles for a loss. Dylan Glover finished a big night with three solo’s, four assists and one for a loss. Mason, Jacob Rice and Cory Chipps each had three solo tackles.
“It’s a good feeling to get above .500,” said coach Ryan Walton of Tyler Consolidated. “Anytime you get a win that’s enjoyable. It’s something the kids work for and they did a good job coming out fired up. We got the momentum and didn’t give it up, we didn’t relax.”
“Rucker, does a little bit of everything for us and he’s only a sophomore, and we’re happy to have him on our side that’s for sure. He’s a team player and that’s one thing about these guys they all pull for each other.”
The Silver Knights are now 5-4 on the year and will take on a tough opponent in St. Mary’s on Friday night. A win for the Knights would likely propel them into the playoffs.
“I’d say if we can win on Friday, we’ll be in,” said Walton. “It’s going to be a challenge but we’ll get up in the morning and look at films and start getting ready for St. Mary’s,” he added.