[By Stephen Ewing, Special to ETSN.fm]

JOAQUIN -- The third-ranked Tenaha Tigers continued their winning ways, using a big first half to build a 26-0 halftime lead over the Joaquin Rams, before cruising to 39-8 victory Friday night at Ram Stadium.

The Tigers employed a stifling defense to shut down the Rams’ running game in the first half, while their offense looked capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.

Senior running back Cobe Carraway got things started for the Tigers on their first possession, scampering 60 yards for a touchdown at the 8:21 mark in the first quarter. The PAT by Jordan Castillo was no good, leaving the Tigers with a 6-0 lead.

Tenaha's D'Andre Thomas runs with the ball during the Tigers' 39-8 win at Joaquin on Friday night. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Quarterback T.J. Thomas hooked up with fellow senior D’Andre Thomas for a 55-yard touchdown pass with 2:29 left in the opening period. This time, Castillo’s PAT was good, giving the Tigers a 13-0 lead.

The Rams finally got a drive going in the second quarter, taking advantage of a fumble recovery by Dalton Wheless at the Rams' 43. They drove all the way to the Tigers' 11 before the Tenaha defense made a stand, forcing a turnover on downs at the 13.

With 6:07 to play in the second quarter, the Thomases connected again, this time on a 20-yard pass to extend the lead to 19-0 after the PAT failed. Kebo Reed added a 68-yard touchdown run with 2:59 to play in the first half. Castillo split the uprights to make the score 26-0 at halftime.

The Tigers picked up where they left off in the second half, marching 59 yards in 10 plays, capped off by Caraway’s second touchdown of the night -- this one a 2-yarder. The PAT was blocked, but the Tigers had a 32-0 lead with 8:52 remaining in the third quarter.

The Rams made some halftime adjustments to their offense, and it paid off with an eight-play, 59-yard drive completed by a 14-yard touchdown run by Nate Belrose. Jonathan Rico punched in the two-point conversion, making the score 32-8 with 4:57 showing in the third period.

Tenaha's Cobe Caraway runs with the ball during the Tigers' 39-9 win at Joaquin on Friday night. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)

Caraway hit paydirt for the third time on a 42-yard run with 4:21 remaining in the game.

“We had a lot of kids in key roles for the first time tonight," said Tenaha coach Terry Ward. "You just never know how that’s going to work until you get them out here. I thought T.J. Thomas did an outstanding job throwing the ball, not forcing it, but finding the open receiver. I think our defensive front was a key. Anytime you can shut a team like Joaquin out in the first half, you’re getting it right up front. That stop we got when they got down to our 11-yard line was huge.”

The Tigers piled up 454 yards of offense on the night. Caraway led the way with 18 carries for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Reed added 100 yards on nine carries and scored once. T.J. Thomas completed 7 of 12 passes for 120 yards and two scores. D’Andre Thomas caught four passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and Colton Goeke pulled in three for 17 yards. Dicarlo Dudley led the defense with 11 tackles, two for losses. Reed added 6 tackles.

The Rams' offense was led by senior running back Jonathan Rico, who had 89 yards on 20 carries. Belrose picked up 83 yards on 14 carries, scoring one touchdown.

The Tigers will be on the road again next week when they travel to Bullard to take on the Brook Hill Guard. The Rams will be back at home to host the Woodville Eagles. Kickoff for both games is set for 7:30 p.m.

A gang of Tenaha defenders bring down Joaquin's Brock Lawson during their game Friday night in Joaquin. (Ray Jackson, ETSN.fm)