Cameron Grant's first carry on Friday went straight up the middle untouched for a 25-yard touchdown.

Kiante Stoker's final run also went right up the middle, but he shrugged off a number of attempted tackles for a 37-yard touchdown run.

And those are just a couple of John Tyler's backup running backs.

Grant, Stoker and starter Justin Samples have combined to give the Lions a consistent threat at running back to compliment the running and throwing of quarterback Bryson Smith.

The trio has helped John Tyler rush for 20 more yards per game than last year but at a much higher efficiency. The 2015 Lions averaged 5.1 yards per carry compared to 6.0 this year. At closer inspection, the 2015 running backs averaged 3.8 yards per carry compared to 4.9 this year.

Samples, Grant and Stoker said their success comes down to the competition between them in practice with running backs coach Tyson Wilson.

"We just push each other to the limits in practice," Grant said. "We compete with each other then we just make each other better. When we hear our name called it's next man up.

"Any running back we call on can get the job done."

Added Stoker: "It's fun. We're always competing, but it's fun."

In Friday's 42-14 win over North Mesquite, Samples ran for 49 yards before suffering a concussion in the third quarter.

Grant came in and had his best game of the year, running for 85 yards on nine carries before cramping up in the fourth quarter after a 12-yard gain.

So Stoker, who started the game at linebacker, ran twice for two total yards before busting out his long touchdown run.

"Early this year I got hurt so then I went through a lot of adversity, then I went to linebacker," Stoker said. "So when Cameron got one I was like, I gotta get one, I just had to get me one so I had to make sure I got it."

Samples leads the Lions running backs with 357 yards and five touchdowns on a team-high 79 carries. A transfer from Atascocita, Samples' brother John was an all-district defensive end at Robert E. Lee, graduating this past spring.

At 6-2, 205 pounds, the tough-running junior has two 100-yard rushing games this year, including 133 yards against Ennis.

"Samples you can use inside the tackles with him but you know he has the speed to hit the outside," JT coach Ricklan Holmes said.

Added Samples: "I keep fighting for yards."

Grant is a 5-9, 170-pound sophomore who had his breakout game against North Mesquite. He has 121 yards and two touchdowns to go with a 13-yard touchdown on his lone reception of the year.

Smaller but quicker than Samples and Stoker, Grant has the vision and explosiveness to exploit the holes created by the JT offensive line, dubbed the Wall.

"They do really good on their assignments," Stoker said of the offensive line. "Our job is pretty easy: We've just got to hit the hole. We have the easy part; they do all the hard stuff."

The other running backs agreed.

"They've been working hard in practice," Grant said. "They've been improving week by week and that's what's improved our rushing yards. We've improved every week because the Wall just is working constantly in practice and trying to tie it all together."

Having returned to full health, Stoker, a 5-11, 205-pound junior, can help the Lions on both sides of the ball. A hurdler during track season, he had nine tackles against North Mesquite and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry in limited action thus far.

"I just play whatever the team needs me," Stoker said. "I think this week I'll be more running back."

Stoker may play more running back this week at home against Mesquite if Samples doesn't return from his concussion. Holmes said Samples will be a game-time decision after going through concussion protocols.

Regardless of who is getting carries, they'll help take pressure off two star players: Smith at quarterback and leading tackler Martrevious Allison at linebacker, who was expected to start at running back before the emergence of the current trio.

That trio helped JT average a season-high 7.3 yards per carry last week.

"We've got two bruisers now with Stoker and Samples," Holmes said. "You throw in that shifty guy who can make guys miss in space out of Grant.

"They are doing a great job of running the ball and doing a great job of making sure that they do what they need to do. Especially yards after contact - they're doing a great job of that right now."

With the exception for the New Orleans Warren Easton game dominated by the JT defense, the Lions running game has increased its yards per carry each week.

And best of all for John Tyler is that they'll have plenty of time to keep improving.

"Good thing about those three is all of them are going to come back next year," Holmes said.

TWITTER: @TYoestingETFS

LIONS TALES: Tickets for the John Tyler-Mesquite game at Rose Stadium will be sold on campus to students and faculty Wednesday-Friday. Additional ticket sales will be at the TISD athletic office (807 W. Glenwood), T&T Lewis (903 W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd) and Tyler Athletics (5520 Old Jacksonville Hwy) during regular business hours Wednesday-Friday. Presale tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Gate tickets cost $6 for general admission and $8 for reserved. Additional ticket sales are available at https://tylerisd.brushfireapp.com/.

 

John Tyler Season Statistics

Scores

Non-District

John Tyler 45, Plano West 14

John Tyler 30, Ennis 14

John Tyler 41, New Orleans Warren Easton 6

District 11-6A

Rockwall 59, John Tyler 58

John Tyler 42, North Mesquite 28

Score By Quarters

    1st    2nd    3rd    4th       OT        Tot. 

Opponents    17    30    32    28    0    —    107

JOHN TYLER    33    65    56    62    0    —    216

———

Team Statistics

Scoring

    JT    Opp.

Rushing    90    42

Passing    90    42

PAT    27    10

FG    9    9

Defense/Special Teams    0    0

2 Pt Conversion    0    4

Total    216    107

———

First Downs

    JT     Opp.

Passing    48    39

Rushing    63    48

Penalty    2    6

Total    113    93

——— 

Third Down Conversions

JOHN TYLER    29-61 (48%)

Opponents    28-78 (36%)

Fourth Down Conversions

JOHN TYLER    5-9 (56%)

Opponents    8-20 (40%)

Field Goals Made/Attempted

JOHN TYLER    3-7 (43%) 

Opponents    3-3 (100%) 

PATs Made/Attempted

JOHN TYLER    27-30 (90%)

Opponents    10-11 (91%) 

———

Team Yardage

Rushing

JOHN TYLER    1129 (225.8)

Opponents    810 (162.0)

Passing 

JOHN TYLER    1340 (268.0)

Opponents    973 (194.6)

Total Yards

JOHN TYLER     2469 (493.8)

Opponents    1783 (356.6)

Punts-Avg.

JOHN TYLER    15-490 (32.7)

Opponents    26-919 (35.3)

Fumbles-Lost

JOHN TYLER    8-2

Opponents    15-5

Interceptions Thrown

JOHN TYLER    2

Opponents    3

Turnover Ratio

JOHN TYLER    +4

Penalties-Yards

JOHN TYLER    60-469

Opponents    38-316

———

Individual Statistics

Rushing

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Bryson Smith    67    598    8.9    7    53

Justin Samples    79    357    4.5    5    15t

Cameron Grant    21    121    5.8    2    25t

Kiante Stoker    9    47    5.2    1    37t

Victor Campbell    2    13    6.5    0    10

Devlen Woods    1    5    5.0    0    5

Jaivon Williams    2    3    1.5    0    4

Martrevious Allison    1    0    0.0    0    0

M. Givens-Washington    1    -3    -3.0    0    -3

Team    4    -12    -3.0    0    -3

Total    187    1129    6.0    15    25t

Opponents    212    810    3.8    7    79t

———

Passing

Player    Co.    Att.    Yds.    TD    INT    Lg.

Bryson Smith    76    131    1329    15    2    93t

Jaivon Williams    1    4    11    0    0    11

Devlen Woods    0    1    0    0    0    0

Total    77    136    1340    15    2    93t

Opponents    70    138    973    7    3    62

———

Receiving

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

M. Givens-Washington    22    392    17.8    4    71t

Devlen Woods    21    274    13.0    1    33

Damion Miller    13    380    29.2    4    93t

Ke'Andre Street    12    233    19.4    4    35

KeEric Franklin    3    19    6.3    0    13

Jaivon Williams    3    16    5.3    0    10

Cameron Grant    1    13    13.0    1    13t

Bryson Smith    1    11    11.0    0    11

Martrevious Allison    1    2    2.0    1    2

Total    77    1340    17.4    15    93t

Opponents    70    973    13.9    7    62

———

Punting

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    N20    BK    Lg.

Devan Salazar    6    190    31.7    1    0    42

Frankie Sanchez    9    300    33.3    5    0    49

Total    15    490    32.7    6    0    49

Opponents    26    919    35.3    4    1    56

———

Kicking

Player    XPM/A    FGM/A    TB    Lg.

Devan Salazar    21-24    3-6    5    70

Frankie Sanchez    6-6    0-1    1    70

Totals    27-30    3-7    6    70

Opponents    10-11    3-3    3    65

———

Kickoff Returns

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

Damion Miller    3    86    28.7    0    33

M. Givens-Washington    3    68    22.7    0    29

Kieran Freeman    2    50    25.0    0    28

Devlen Woods    1    38    38.0    0    38

Cameron Grant    2    14    7.0    0    15

Total    11    256    23.3    0    38

———

Punt Returns

Player    No.    Yds.    Avg.    TD    Lg.

M. Givens-Washington    6    114    19.0    0    55

Total    6    114    19.0    0    55

———

Scoring

Player    TD    FG    PAT    2PT    Tot.

Bryson Smith    7    0    0    0    42

Devan Salazar    0    3    21    0    30

Justin Samples    5    0    0    0    30

Damion Miller    4    0    0    0    24

M. Givens-Washington    4    0    0    0    24

Ke'Andre Street    4    0    0    0    24

Cameron Grant    3    0    0    0    18

Frankie Sanchez    0    0    6    0    6

Devlen Woods    1    0    0    0    6

Martrevious Allison    1    0    0    0    6

Kiante Stoker    1    0    0    0    6

Total    30    3    27    0    216

Opponents    14    3    10    2    107

———

Defensive Stats

Fumble Recoveries

Player    No.    TD    

Tabias Marshall    1    0

Howard Hawkins    1    0

Shaundrick Williams    1    0

Dekalen Goodson    1    0

Kiante Stoker    1    0

Team    5    0

———

Interceptions

Player    No.    TD

Kieran Freeman    2    0

Martrevious Allison    1    0

Total    3    0

———

Sacks

Player    No.

Dekalen Goodson    8.0

Howard Hawkins    5.0

Dewayne Jones    2.0

Gregorio Guerrero    2.0

Martrevious Allison    2.0

Kaylon Douglas    1.0

Shaundrick Williams    1.0

Tabias Marshall    1.0

Total    22.0

———

Blocked Punts

Player    No.

Da'Quaylon Kennedy    1

Total    1

———

Individual Stats

Player    QBP    PBU    FF    TFL    SOL    TOT

Martrevious Allison    0    3    2    0    14    51

Tyus Grayson    0    1    0    0    10    45

Howard Hawkins    9    0    0    10    18    38

Shaundrick Williams    0    0    0    0    4    34

Da'Qualyon Kennedy    0    3    0    0    12    33

Dekalen Goodson    2    1    1    4    20    32

Dewayne Jones    0    0    0    0    8    28

Kieran Freeman    0    9    0    0    15    26

Javontavius Mosley    0    8    2    1    18    23

Clark Edwards    0    1    0    0    8    20

Kiante Stoker    0    0    0    0    4    15

Kelton McGee    0    0    1    1    4    11

Tabias Marshall    2    0    0    0    7    10

Gregorio Guerrero    0    0    0    0    7    8

Kaylon Douglas    5    0    0    1    2    7

Nicholas Thompson    0    1    0    0    4    6

LaMarcus McCowin    0    0    0    0    1    4

KeEric Franklin    0    0    0    0    3    3

James Chevis    0    0    0    0    0    3

Damion Miller    0    0    0    0    0    3

Keyon Washington    0    0    0    0    0    2

Jerry Young    0    0    0    0    1    2

Ke'Andre Street    0    0    0    0    2    2

Justin Samples    0    0    0    0    1    1

M. Givens-Washington    0    0    0    0    1    1

Jarod Buffin    0    0    0    0    1    1

JaTayviun Asbell    0    0    0    0    0    1

Cameron Grant    0    0    0    0    1    1

Hakeem Williams    3    0    0    0    0    1

Totals    21    27    6    17    166    412

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