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Rams rough up Bearkats

By Stephen Ewing
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Joaquin- It was a case of the old “good news/ bad news” story here at Ram Stadium Friday night. The good news is that the Joaquin Rams got back in the win column with a dominating 58-8 win over District 10AA Division 1 rival Cushing. The bad news is that despite the victory, the Rams were mathematically eliminated from the district playoff race because they didn’t get the help they needed. Nevertheless, the Rams were able to get seniors Dustyn Ramsey, Trevor May, Cole Powdrill, Nathaniel Retamar, Colby Hamilton, and Cardrae Brown a victory in their last appearance on the Ram Stadium gridiron. The win was a total team effort, as the Ram offense rolled up 457 yards, despite not having anyone rush for over 100 yards. 
The Rams got off to a fast start, covering an onsides kick attempt by the Bearkats at their own 45 yard line, then moving 55 yards in four plays, capped off by a 30 yard touchdown run by senior running back Nathaniel Retamar. Hunter Harper punched in the two point conversion, giving the Rams a 8-0 lead just a minute and a half into the contest. The Ram defense stepped up next, forcing a three-and-out by the Bearkats, setting up a punt. Tray Wilkerson caught the pigskin and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown, but a block in the back penalty brought it back to the Ram 40 yard line. It turned out not to matter, as the Rams only needed six plays to cover the sixty yards, with sophomore Case Yates going the final 18. Harper crashed in for the conversion, putting the Rams up 16-0 with 6:34 left in the first period. The Ram defense held again, this time forcing a turnover on downs at the Bearkat 40, ting up an eight play drive, which Yates finished off with a three yard run. Jakendrik Smith tacked on the conversion, making the score 24-0 with 1:08 remaining in the first quarter. Another three-and-out by the Ram defense forced a punt, giving the Rams the football at their own 21 yard line. They only needed three plays to score this time, as quarterback Tray Wilkerson scampered 64 yards for the touchdown with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter. The conversion failed, leaving the Rams up 30-0. The Ram defense created its first turnover of the night when senior safety Cole Powdrill picked off Brandon Matlock’s pass at the Ram 37 and returned it to the Bearkat 30. It took them four plays to cash that one in, with Smith doing the honors from seven yards out. Harper added another two-pointer to stretch the lead to 38-0 with 6:06 left in the half. The Bearkats finally got on the board with a six-play, 51 yard drive capped off by a two yard run by Darius Buckley. Buckley then added the two-point conversion to bring the score to 38-8. The Rams came right back, moving 48 yards in two plays, with Wilkerson finding Powdrill for a 41 yard touchdown pass. The conversion failed, leaving the score at 44-8 with 3:32 left in the second quarter. The Ram defense came up with another stop at their own 37, and Wilkerson immediately hooked up with Smith for what appeared to be a 63 yard touchdown pass. However, a holding penalty brought the ball back Ram 45. A 14 yard run by Yates, followed by a 28 yard completion to Smith set up a 13 yard touchdown pass from Yates to Powdrill. Freshman Joseph Tarver bounced in for the two-pointer, giving the Rams a 52-8 lead as the teams went to the locker room. A botched punt attempt by the Bearkats set the Rams up at the Cushing 34, and the Rams took full advantage, as Harper finished off the scoring for the night with a two yard rumble. The conversion failed, leaving the final score at 58-8. 
Ram Head Coach Wade Lawson, while disappointed with the news that the Rams would be missing out on the postseason for the second consecutive year, was pleased with his team’s effort. “Our kids stayed focused all week on the things that they could control, and that was the outcome of this game. They knew that West Sabine beating Beckville was a long shot, but they came in every day and worked to prepare for this game like it was a playoff game. Cushing has been outgunned in every district game they’ve played, but no one has been able to put them away as quickly as we did. They’ve made it a ball game until halftime every week. Our kids just jumped on them fast and hard and didn’t let up. We pretty much had them beat by the end of the first quarter, and that’s not a knock on them. It’s a tribute  to how hard our kids played. I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’re in one of the toughest districts in the state. We’ve got wins over four playoff teams, and got a chance to make it five. Every team that’s beaten us is a playoff team. Cayuga and Groveton are going to the playoffs out of their districts, in the same division we compete in, and we beat both of them. We’ve got to go to Beckville next week with the same mentality that we approached tonight with. They’re a much better football team than Cushing, but we feel like if we go up there and play hard and don’t make mistakes, we can come out with a win. I’m really proud of the way our sophomores and juniors stepped up to get our seniors a big win here on senior night. This is the last time they’ll play under these lights. It was important that we get them a win.”
The Rams were led offensively by sophomore quarterback Tray Wilkerson, who 4 of 4 pass attempts for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball twice for 61 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Nathaniel Retamar picked up 81 yards and a score on five rushing attempts, while sophomore Case Yates ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns on eleven carries. Junior Jakendrik Smith picked up 35 yards on five tries, scoring once, while classmate Hunter Harper added 34 yards and a score on nine carries. Senior tight end Cole Powdrill caught two passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow senior Colby Hamilton, who moved to tight end this week, pulled in one pass for 47 yards. Jakendrik Smith caught one pass for 28 yards. Yates led the defense with 9 tackles, including one for a loss. Peyton Martinez made five stops, while Powdrill made 3 tackles and an interception from his safety position. The Ram defense held Cushing to 150 yards of total offense, and only allowed them to convert six first downs on the night. 
In other District 10AA Division 1 action, the Shelbyville Dragons (8-0, 4-0) clinched their first district championship in 33 years, dismantling the San Augustine Wolves (4-5, 2-2) by a score of 54-26. The Beckville Bearcats (8-1, 3-1) knocked off the West Sabine Tigers (4-5, 2-2) 51-32.That locks Shelbyville, Beckville, San Augustine, and West Sabine in as the district’s playoff representatives, with the week 11 games deciding the seeding. Friday night, the Rams will travel to Beckville, Shelbyville will host West Sabine, and San Augustine will travel to Cushing. Kickoff for all games is set for 7:30 p.m.