By LLOYD COMBS
for the Daily Telegraph
BIRCHLEAF, Va. —
It would be easy for a team that's heavily favored to lose focus, especially after taking a 23-0 lead despite running just two plays from scrimmage.
Haysi, however, is having too much fun to lose focus.
The Tigers stayed unbeaten with a 57-6 rout of Thomas Walker Friday night at Sandlick Elementary School.
Tanner O'Quinn scored three touchdowns, Jalen Sykes threw for three and Jeffrey Bowen ran for two scores for Haysi, which finished with 302 yards of total offense on just 24 total plays.
"I thought our guys came out and played well from the beginning," Haysi coach James Colley said. "We didn't have any letups.
"We stayed focused on what we were doing on offense and defense. I thought they did a really good job."
No one has done a better job in recent weeks than Bowen.
After three straight games going for over 200 yards the hard-charging senior got just nine touches but finished with 111 yards rushing. He also went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and gives all the credit to his offensive line.
"The line is everything, they've done it all season long and the numbers prove it," said Bowen, who scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 40-yard run on his first carry of the night. He set up his team's first score with a 48-yard punt return.
Sykes threw just four passes but completed all of them, starting with a 13-yard TD pass to O'Quinn on the Tigers' first play of the night.
Gauge Hill hauled in a 30-yard second-quarter touchdown pass from Sykes, who gives a lot of credit Bowen in one of the most balanced offenses in the area.
"We love having the best back in the region," Sykes said. "That's what Jeff and I talked before the season. They have to stop one of us. They can stop him or stop the passing game."
Haysi (6-0) held Thomas Walker (1-5) to 61 total yards. The Pioneers managed minus-six yards in the first half, including a negative-14 on the ground.
The Tigers, meanwhile, averaged 10.2 yards per rushing attempt.
"I thought our line did a great job, on offense and defense," Colley added. "Wade Turner, Robbie Yates, Blake Branham, James Adkins and Bryan Duncan, those five guys tonight set the tone early (in the offensive line).
"And it was the same way on the defensive line. Bryan Duncan, Blake Branham, James at end and Robbie at end, they all played really well."
Tanner Artrip and Tristan Yates were also among the defensive leaders for the Tigers, who built a 43-0 halftime lead. Yates scored on a 37-yard run in the first quarter.
O'Quinn caught a 35-yard TD pass from Sykes less than two minutes into the second half. Later in the half Travis Conaway capped the scoring with a 38-yard TD run.
Justin Catron scored the only Thomas Walker with a 6-yard run late in the third quarter.
Focus will continue to be paramount for Haysi as it gets closer to its annual showdown with unbeaten rival Honaker in the final game of the regular season.
"We always say we want to take it one game at a time and we want to start fast and finish strong every game," cautioned Sykes. "We can't get caught up looking ahead. Any one of these teams could upset us at any time from week to week."
at Sandlick Elementary
Thomas Walker....................0 0 0 6 — 6
Haysi...................................30 13 6 8 — 57
H - O'Quinn 13 pass from Sykes (Bowen kick)
H - O'Quinn 43 punt return (Bowen kick)
H - Safety (intentional grounding call in end zone)
H - Bowen 40 run (Bowen kick)
H - T. Yates 37 run (Bowen kick)
H - Bowen 12 run (kick failed)
H - Hill 16 pass from Sykes (Bowen kick)
H - O'Quinn 35 pass from Sykes (kick failed)
H - Conaway 38 run (Fuller run)
TW - Catron 6 run (pass failed)
First Downs: TW 7, H 12; Rushes-Yards: TW 28-27, H 20-204; Passing Yards: TW 34, H 98; Comp-Int-Att: TW 2-12-1, H 4-4-0; Fumbles-Lost: TW 3-0, H 0-0; Penalties-Yards: TW 3-11, H 8-55; Punts-Average: TW 5-26.8, H 0-0.