Kolten Gibson entered Friday as one of the area's most prolific high school passers. He left with his reputation a bit more refined, although his dual-threat display did not surprise his coach.
Rather than beating Tyner with his arm, the Walker Valley sophomore quarterback made precise decisions within the read-option all night, dissecting the Rams on the ground and leading the Mustangs to a 41-14 win at Wayne Turner Field in the first meeting between the schools since 2006.
"He's had that in him all year, but we didn't put pressure on him tonight," Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan said of Gibson, who ran for 168 yards and two scores and threw for another. "The defense played well and kept the pressure off him, which is big."
Two Tyner quarterbacks threw four interceptions.
After starting 3-0, the Rams (3-2) have lost consecutive games by a total of 60 points.
Walker Valley (2-3), meanwhile, looked sharp, gaining a needed confidence boost ahead of Thursday's rivalry game against Cleveland. The Mustangs' only other win came against winless Hixson.
"This one solidified us," Ryan said. "We struggled a little bit out of the gate this year, but I think we got a lot of things fixed in the off week that are really going to help us."
Gibson ran 42 yards up the middle for a score less than two minutes into the game, and Walker Valley recovered a fumble on the Rams' first possession to set the tone early.
Any rhythm to the game was soon interrupted, however.
Tyner safety JaDarius Paris suffered a neck injury with 4:49 to play in the first quarter. An ambulance was called to the field and medical personnel carefully loaded Paris onto a stretcher. He appeared to be moving his arms and legs at will.
The total delay was about 30 minutes, and Tyner struggled to recover after the loss of one of its seniors on homecoming night. Coach Wayne Turner said he anticipates that Paris will be fine.
Tyner made its biggest push after the Mustangs pulled ahead 41-0 and initiated a running clock late in the third quarter. Keiontae Halfacre punched in a 1-yard touchdown for the Rams, and with Walker Valley playing its second-team offense, Tyner held the Mustangs scoreless the rest of the way.
Gibson and running back Alex King had put the game out of reach long before, though. King scored twice, bringing his season touchdown total to 12 while playing a complementary role to Gibson, who stole the show.
"He's a good athlete. He's just a sophomore and we're excited about that, too," Ryan said of Gibson. "He's going to do nothing but get better and better. He played a whale of a ballgame tonight."