AYERSVILLE -- It only took the Tinora Rams 24 minutes to determine the outcome of the 36th annual "River Bowl" on a blustery Friday evening at Ayersville's Craig McCord Field.
Finding paydirt on seven of its eight first-half possessions, the Green-and-White stretched a commanding 48-0 lead at the intermission into a lopsided 60-7 win over the Pilots in a Green Meadows Conference and Defiance County showdown.
With the win, the Rams (6-2, 4-1 GMC) stretched their winning streak to four games and remain in the hunt for the GMC title with league battles against Holgate and Edgerton remaining on the schedule.
"That's huge for us," said Tinora mentor Kenny Krouse of the Rams' well-rounded victory. "We can't worry about anybody else. We've just got to do our part and see where we end up when this thing all ends. We'll just take it one week at a time and we just continue to improve. I think we're playing our best ball right now."
In looking at the numbers, it is a statement that's hard to dispute.
Tinora -- which has now won five straight against Ayersville while outscoring the Pilots 205-10 in the past four -- racked up 543 yards of offense in contrast to Ayersville's 151.
As the first half came to an end, the Rams held a 384-56 advantage over the Blue-and-Gold in the yardage department, with 246 of those yards coming by way of a solid rushing attack.
"We knew that they were big and they were physical," commented Ayersville head coach Chris Dales, whose Pilots slipped to 2-6 and 0-5 in the GMC. "They've got awesome running backs and an awesome run game. We knew what we were up against, and we tried to raise our level of play in practice this week to play hard and get better. Unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of things, but they're a good football team and we're still trying to eliminate our mistakes. I think we did get better at that today. We're just trying to move forward and do the best we can."
The bulk of the Rams 395 yards of total rushing came from the combined effort of Kipp McCann and sophomore Kurt Kahle. While McCann led Tinora with 174 yards on 13 carries, Kahle rushed 11 times for 152 yards.
Furthermore, McCann rushed for five touchdowns -- four in the opening half -- as Kahle rushed for one score and caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Derek Drewes.
"I've just always been told that once you get through the first level, just turn the jets on and go and don't look back," stated McCann, who had touchdown runs of 16 and 48 yards in addition to three from a yard out. "Before we came over here today, we watched a highlight reel of all the big plays that's happened between Tinora and Ayersville. It just fired everybody up and we came out ready to go."
That much was obvious, as McCann's opening touchdown paved the way for Kahle's pair of scores through the air and on the ground from 42 yards out, giving Tinora a 21-0 lead after one with the help from PAT kicks by senior Austin Farrington.
Without the rushing talents of injured starter Marshall Gerschutz, Kahle's performance was instrumental both in the offensive and defensive backfield, according to the Krouse.
"We're optimistic still about the possibility of Marshall still coming back," said Krouse. "But Kurt is just one of those kids who is stepping in there when it's his time. He had a real good ballgame and got to showcase what type of talent he's got. We see it every Friday with him at cornerback, but now we've gotten to see what he's going to be able to do as an offensive halfback."
In the midst of McCann rambling for three more touchdowns in the second quarter, Drewes connected with senior split end Tyler McKenney for a 66-yard touchdown. After hauling in the pass at the Ayersville 35, McKenney was off to the races.
Tinora's rushing game was complimented by 148 yards passing by Drewes on 4-of-6 attempts and a pair of touchdown strikes, all coming in the opening half.
"I thought offensively we continue to get better and rally around Derek," Krouse noted. "We wanted to continue to get him on track just because of the things that are yet to come in our schedule and he's got two more years under center for us. I thought he looked very well as far as managing our offense, and our backs ran hard."
And the defense held solid once again.
Despite giving up 111 yards to Pilot rushing standout Justin Flory, the Rams gave up a net total of 103 yards on the ground and just 48 through the air between Ayersville signal-callers Vinnie Perez and Colton Relyea. While Relyea was responsible for all the passing yards on 8-of-16 attempts, Perez was held to no completions and an interception on five attempts.
Making plenty of stops and applying plenty of passing pressure was Tinora junior defensive tackle Brady Schafer, who was back to playing both sides of the ball following migraine problems a week ago.
"I thought we played pretty good defense," said the Tinora junior. "We studied our scouting reports all week, and 'H' (Ram defensive coordinator Mike Heilshorn) was scouting them all weekend because this is a big game for us. We always want to shut them out ... it's just a big game."
Ayersville avoided the shutout with 1:31 left in the game as Flory capped a six-play, 59-yard drive with a touchdown bolt from six yards out for an appreciative Pilot crowd.
"It just gives the kids a little bit of confidence to get them pumped up and know that we can do things right," said Dales, whose Pilots will take on winless Antwerp (0-8, 0-5 GMC) on Friday. "It was good that were able to do that as a little confidence builder."
First Downs 12 9
Rushing Yards 40-395 40-103
Passing Yards 148 48
Total Yards 543 151
Passing 4-6-0 8-21-1
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 1-0
Penalties 6-59 6-55
Tinora 21 27 6 6 - 60
Ayersville 0 0 0 7 - 7
T - McCann 16-run (Farrington kick).
T - Kahle 38-pass from Drewes (Farrington kick).
T - Kahle 42-run (Farrington kick).
T - McCann 1-run (Farrington kick).
T - McKenney 66-pass from Drewes (Farrington kick).
T - McCann 48-run (kick failed).
T - McCann 1-run (Farrington kick).
T - McCann 1-run (kick failed).
T - Vogel 47-run (run failed).
A - Flory 6-run (Juvonen kick).
RUSHING: Tinora - McCann 13-174; Kahle 12-152; Vogel 2-47; Flory 8-27; Rumbaugh 1-0; Camp 4-(-5). Ayersville - Flory 24-111; McFadden 6-9; Perez 6-0; Hagerman 1-(-1); Clark 1-(-5); Relyea 2-(-11). PASSING: Tinora - Drewes 4-6-0-148. Ayersville - Relyea 8-16-0-48; Perez 0-5-1-0. RECEIVING: Tinora - McKenney 2-79; Kahle 1-38; Rumbaugh 1-31. Ayersville - Perez 3-24; McFadden 2-13; Hagerman 3-11.