Tarell Ramsey didn’t look bad for someone who had never played wide receiver in his life.
Ramsey caught five passes for 137 yards, including a 75-yard bomb from Ryan Alden, during Haskell Indian Nations University’s 47-16 football loss to Rhodes College on Saturday afternoon.
“He’s just an athlete,” teammate Malcolm Coleman said of Ramsey. “I think he did great. I knew he’d make big plays.”
Coleman, the Fightin’ Indians’ tailback, made a big play himself. On the second play after the opening kickoff, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound sophomore bolted straight up the middle and ran virtually untouched on a 52-yard touchdown jaunt.
“I told my grandma I thought I was going to get caught,” Coleman said, smiling, “but I put it in another gear.”
Coleman’s sudden score provided some extra juice for a sizable homecoming crowd at Haskell Stadium that was celebrating the school’s 125th anniversary. But the joy soon turned euphoric.
Haskell wouldn’t cross the goal line again until the third quarter and by then the Lynx had forged a 33-7 lead by unleashing some big plays of their own.
Nevertheless, the Indians made a third-quarter charge, thanks mainly to Ramsey, a 5-10, 180-pound sophomore who caught passes for 21 and 20 yards during a drive that stalled but resulted in a 34-yard field goal by Louis Dailey.
Haskell still lagged 33-10 going into the final 15 minutes, but on the Indians’ first possession of the quarter Alden hit Ramsey streaking down the left sideline and the converted defensive back outraced the pursuit to complete the 75-yard scoring play.
HINU coach Eric Brock decided to shift Ramsey from the secondary to wide receiver after Cody Wilson, last year’s leading receiver, suffered a broken leg in the opener and was lost for the season.
“We thought we needed to get the ball in his hands,” Brock said. “He didn’t catch everything, but I thought he played well.”
Ramsey, who was a running back-defensive back in high school in Vinita, Okla., dropped three passes.
“Our quarterback will say he threw high,” Ramsey said, “but they were in my hands.”
Ramsey also was pressed into additional duty as a kickoff returner when Quentin Haynes suffered a broken collarbone early in the first quarter. In fact, Ramsey was on the field so much that he suffered a leg cramp late in the fourth quarter.
Ramsey was able to return, but Haynes is probably lost for the season. Adding to the Indians’ injury woes was the loss of free safety Kyle McHenry to a neck problem in the early minutes.
“These are rough times right now for Haskell,” tailback Coleman said.
The Indians, who have surrendered 108 points in their last two games — both at home, will hit the road Saturday for Jacksonville, Ill., and a date with MacMurray College.