It’s been a year in the making, but on Friday junior tailback Tye Turley made his Afton debut. The result? Based on the smile on his face and the cheers of teammates, coaches and fans — not bad, not bad at all.
Turley carried the ball 15 times for 281 yards and three touchdowns in his first action since transferring from Miami High School after the eighth week of the 2007 season, as the Eagles rolled to a 56-20 District A-8 victory over Oklahoma Union.
That means for weeks now Turley has been practicing and not playing. But on Friday, it was time for Turley to do what he does best — run the football.
His first carry went for 36 yards. His seventh carry went for 17 yards and a touchdown. He also had touchdown runs of 48 and 83 yards.
Asked if it felt good to be back out on the field, he smiled big and nodded his head. His coach was smiling, too.
“It’s great to have him on the field,” Afton head coach Zack Gardner said. “With him on the field, we have a lot of offensive weapons. That makes us very hard to defend.”
The Eagles gained 525 yards of total offense against Oklahoma Union. Quarterback Ryan Markes threw for 146 yards and T.J. Korb rushed for 81 yards on eight carries.
Afton (7-2, 6-2) also benefited from a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns, the first a 97-yard return by Markes, the other an 8-yard return by Magnum Mustain.
The only negatives on the night for the Eagles were a pair if interceptions thrown by Markes deep in Oklahoma Union territory and 12 penalties for 75 yards.
“We are playing better, but still need to do a better job of executing,” Gardner said. “We committed too many penalties and need to protect the ball. The interception right before the half was a bad decision. We will have to execute better next week against Ketchum.”
Afton jumped out to a 21-0 lead on a 17-yard run by Turley and touchdown runs of 1 and 9 yards from Markes.
Oklahoma Union (3-6, 3-5) used a 10-play, five-minute drive to get its first points, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kamon Holt to Kyle Moore.
Afton responded with a four-play drive capped by Turley’s 48-yard touchdown run with 4:15 left in the first half.
The lead expanded to 35-6 with 4:49 to play in the third with Markes picked off a Holt pass attempt at the Afton 3-yard line and returned in 97 yards for the score.
Holt returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the Afton 12-yard line. Three plays later he connected with Trey Stacy for the score. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 35-12.
Oklahoma Union recovered the kickoff at the Afton 43-yard line, but on the next play Holt’s pass attempt was picked off by Korb at the Eagle 17-yard line. Turley raced 83 yards on the next play for the touchdown and a 42-12 lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Afton would sandwich Mustain’s 8-yard interception return and a 40-yard touchdown run by Korb around Cougar Dylan Kipps’ 13-yard run to conclude the scoring.
“It’s good to get the win,” Gardner said. “We were able to come out of this one healthy and that’s important. We have a big one next week.”
Afton will travel to Ketchum on Friday for a crucial District A-8 game for both teams. A win by Afton gives the Eagles sole possession of third place in the district standings.
“We will be fighting to stay in the playoffs, while Ketchum will be fighting to get in the playoffs,” Gardner said. “There will be a lot at stake on Friday.”