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September 16, 2009 > Tennyson starts the season by shutting out MSJ

Tennyson starts the season by shutting out MSJ

By Gary van den Heuvel
Photos By Mike Heightchew

The Tennyson Lancers opened their football season in much the same way they began 2008 - with a one-sided non-league win over the Mission San Jose Warriors, who were also playing their first contest of the year. Last year, Tennyson's victory came on the road; this season, Tennyson beat Mission at Prince-Serrano field on the Tennyson High School campus, and did it without allowing a point, prevailing 21-0 in a sunny Friday afternoon game.

After each team punted on their first possession, the Lancers offense went to work late in the first quarter. The first big play was a 19-yard reception by Torrance Shanklin which put Tennyson in Mission territory for the first time. On the next play, workhorse fullback T.J. Ner ran for 36 yards on a nifty combination of rugged straight-ahead rushing and quick, elusive jukes. The Ner run gave Tennyson a first and goal from the 5. On third down from the 3, quarterback Kyle Johnson - in his first game ever as quarterback - salvaged what was almost a broken play when, out of the shotgun formation, he scooped a low snap and immediately broke left, sweeping in untouched for the first Lancer touchdown. Carlos Padilla's extra-point attempt was straight down the middle and Tennyson took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

Both offenses sputtered, but the Lancer defense set up a scoring opportunity when defensive end Michael Head recovered a fumble by Mission QB Robyn Torrence on an ill-fated quarterback keeper. Tennyson needed just 4 plays to travel 22 yards for their second score, the touchdown coming on a Johnson pass to a slanting Shanklin from the 11. At the half, the Lancers led 14-0.

Tennyson put the game out of reach on their first second half possession, an efficient 5-play drive which started at their own 33. Ner started the drive with a 12 yard run, and 3 plays later, Johnson connected with Donte Cullins for a 35-yard gain to the Warriors 16. Ner scored on the next play when he started right, circled back left and cruised into the end zone.

The Warriors, who had had no success at all in the first half with an offensive game plan that featured a lot of roll-outs and QB options, actually put on a ball-control clinic on their next possession.

Keeping the ball on the ground, Mission slowly and steadily made progress with runs from Ikem Okwudiafor, notably. But Mission could not make the big play happen - they controlled the ball for 18 plays, over 9 minutes, scratching out yards seemingly inch by inch, and attempting only one pass. That pass came on fourth and 9 from Tennyson's 25, and it was an incomplete screen pass from the pressured Torrence.

An 18-play drive which results in no points can be enough to break the spirit of any team, and at this point, the writing was on the wall: this was going to be Tennyson's day. Mission had no way of penetrating the Lancer D.

Johnson finished with 9 completions in 16 attempts for 116 yards, 1 touchdown pass and 1 touchdown on the ground. More importantly, in his first day under center, he played with poise and did nothing to put Tennyson in danger.

The big numbers were put up by T.J. Ner, who ran for 110 yards on 14 carries and 1 touchdown. Ner had a second touchdown called back on a penalty, and this was when he was on defense, returning an interception for a score from his linebacker position in the fourth quarter. Shanklin, Bruce Woods and Johnny Ray each caught two passes for the Lancers.

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