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Rams dominate in 46-24 win over Cayuga

By Stephen Ewing
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The Joaquin Rams left no doubt that they were a better team than the Cayuga Wildcats here at Ram Stadium Friday night, using a punishing running game to jump out to a 
23-0 lead before cruising to a 46-24 victory. Senior running back Nathaniel Retamar had a career night, rushing for 207 yards on 20 carries and scoring four touchdowns. The Rams, while showing improvement after their bye week, still exhibit the need to polish the rough edges if they intend to challenge for the District 10AA Division 1 championship. 
The Rams opened up the contest with an eight-play, 69 yard drive, capped off by a three yard run by Retamar. Hunter Harper plowed in for the two-point conversion, giving the Rams an early 8-0 lead. After the Ram defense forced the Wildcats backward on their first possession, a muffed punt gave them the football at the Cayuga 42 yard line. This time they needed nine plays to cash in, with Retamar going the final two yards. Nate Belrose punched in the conversion, giving the Rams a 16-0 lead with 3:06 to play in the opening period. Another three-and-out got the ball back at the Wildcat 43, and the Rams went right back to work. A pair of runs by Belrose set up an eighteen yard run by Retamar.This time, the Rams elected to kick the PAT, with Retamar doing the honors to make the score 23-0 with as the first quarter ended. The Rams finished the first quarter with 154 rushing yards behind their massive offensive line. Center Lane Bates, guards Regan Hovey and Zach Bell, tackles Kardrae Brown and Rustin Miller, along with tight end Cole Powdrill and swingman Brock Lawson, continuously blew the Wildcat defense off of the football. After the Ram defense made another stop, they drove the ball back down the field before the drive stalled due to a holding penalty. The Wildcats finally got on the board with 1:43 left in the second quarter, on a 62 yard scamper by Tristan Davis. The two-point conversion pulled the score to 23-8. A personal foul against the Wildcats on the ensuing kickoff set the Rams up at the Cayuga 42, and they took full advantage. Nate Belrose broke off a 40 yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left on the clock. Retamar booted the PAT, giving the Rams a 30-8 lead. The Wildcats answered with a 40 yard touchdown pass, and the two-pointer left the score at 30-16 at the halftime break. 
The Ram defense started off the second half with another three-and-out, and the punt set the Ram offense up at their own 43 yard line. They only needed five plays to score this time, with Retamar making his longest run of the night, a 46-yarder, to stretch the lead again. Retamar dashed in for the two point conversion to give the Rams a 38-16 lead with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter. Another three-and-out forced another Wildcat punt, and sophomore Tray Wilkerson returned it 36 yards to set his team up at the Cayuga 28. Six plays later, Wilkerson scored his first career touchdown on a three-yard run. Retamar added another conversion, leaving the Rams up 46-16 with 2:06 left in the third quarter. The Wildcats wrapped up the scoring with a seven-play, 75-yard drive finished off by a 14-yard pass from Tristan Croft to Tristan Davis. Davis tacked on the conversion, leaving the score at 46-24. That’s how the game would end, as the Rams took advantage of the big lead to get a look at some different player combinations on offense and defense. 
The Rams rolled up 437 yards of offense on the night, all of it on the ground, and picked up 18 first downs.  In addition to Retamar’s big night, Nate Belrose ran for 176 yards on 22 carries, scoring one touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Tray Wilkerson added eight yards and a score on three carries, and junior Hunter Harper picked up 29 yards on 9 carries. The Ram defense held the Wildcats to 225 yards of total offense, with 125 of it through the air. Harper led the way from his linebacker spot, with ten tackles, three for losses. Belrose made seven stops, with two being in the backfield. Sophomore Kase Yates made five tackles, three for losses, and a quarterback sack. Yates currently leads the Rams with four sacks on the year. The Rams committed ten penalties for 90 yards, while the Wildcats collected eight yellow flags for 75 yards. 
While pleased with his team’s win in his head coaching debut at Ram Stadium, Wade Lawson was quick to point out that they still have work to do. “Our kids played hard. That’s a big, strong, physical football team, and we shut down their running game. Any time you can force a team to try and beat you doing what they don’t do well, you’re gonna have success. We made them throw the ball against us, and they weren’t able to do it consistently enough to make it close.  But 90 yards worth of penalties will get us beat by anyone in our district, so we’re still working on cleaning that up. We did still have two turnovers, so we want to kill that bug, too. But, all in all, I’m happy with a win any way we can get it. We’ll enjoy it for about twelve hours and go to work tomorrow getting ready for Groveton.”
District 10AA Division 1 went 5-0 Friday night. In addition to the Rams’ (2-1) win, the Beckville Bearcats (4-0) hammered Overton, 41-13. The Shelbyville Dragons (3-0) blew out Colmesneil by a score of 66-12. The Cushing Bearkats (2-1) picked up a 22-7 win over Detroit, and the San Augustine Wolves (1-3) got into the win column with a 58-51 shootout win over Groveton. The Rams will be on the road again this Friday, when they travel to Groveton to take on the Indians (1-3). Kickoff at the Groveton ISD Outdoor Athletic Complex is set for 7:30 p.m.