Cooper Melton paving the way for a Mustang receiver during Friday night's game with the Wildcats. (Photo: Shaun Webster)
Chattanooga, Tenn. -- The Hixson Wildcats hosted the Walker Valley Mustangs Friday night in a matchup that pitched two teams desperate for a first win of the season.
After a heavy loss in the opener, Hixson came out the traps fast but could never quite build an insurmountable lead.
This would prove costly, as the Mustangs used an explosive second-half display to sprint past the Wildcats and pick up the much needed victory 42-32
It was the home team, though, who made all the noise early on.
After receiving the opening kick, the Wildcat offense wasted no time in putting points on the board. Fueled by a 50-yard run by senior running back Tyrik Twitty, Hixson was soon in striking distance and made no mistake thanks to junior back Myles Ratliff’s 4-yard scamper. A botched extra point, however, meant they had to settle for six.
Despite the fast start, it seemed that this would be a night of missed opportunities for Hixson head coach Dan Duff and his Wildcats.
A missed field goal halfway through first quarter handed possession back to Walker Valley. And in a matter of minutes, they were behind. A lengthy drive left the Mustangs on Hixson’s 1-yard line, and junior running back Alex King did the rest, punching the ball into the end zone.
The Mustang’s response set the tone for a back-and-forth affair. Just when Hixson seemed to pull away with a 19-yard rushing touchdown from Twitty and a quarterback sneak by Ladaquis Word, Walker Valley found an answer.
Mustang’s sophomore quarterback Kolten Gibson found success both through the air and on the ground. A perfectly executed play-action pass set him up for a 59-yard rushing touchdown, and then a successful pass of equal length cut Hixson’s lead to 26-20 before halftime.
If Walker Valley’s head coach, Glen Ryan wasn’t too impressed with the first half, he was certainly left satisfied by his team’s second half effort.
“Our defensive coaches made some nice adjustments, and we had a couple of nice drives just running the football. It wasn’t real pretty at times, but our kids found a way to come back from being behind to win a football game, and that’s a plus.”
The Mustang's defensive tweaks held Hixson to just six points in the entire second half – the Wildcat’s only score coming in the fourth quarter via another powerful run from Twitty. This allowed the offense to take center stage, specifically Alex King.
King stole the show with multiple scores, including a 1-yard run in the dying seconds to effectively seal the game. His most impressive effort, however, was a blow that Hixson failed to ever recover from. Breaking free from the line of scrimmage, King outran everybody en route to a 70-yard touchdown, giving the Mustangs both the lead and momentum.
“The offensive line created holes which allowed me to get open and have me an open field to work with. We played well, and won as a team,” King commented.
The Walker Valley Mustangs capped off the victory by intercepting Word, killing-off any hopes of a comeback, as the game finished 42-32.
The Mustangs will now head into their Week 3 match-up against McMinn County with confidence, belief and, most importantly, a win.
Hixson will have to wait another week, as they welcome Stone Memorial High School to Wildcat Country next Friday.