Walker Valley's Alex King carries the ball as Cleveland's Romeo Wykle, Ben Wyrick and Skyler Davis, from left move in for a tackle Thursday in a storm-shortened game at Cleveland High School (Times Free Press Photo Angela Lewis Foster)
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — If Cleveland High School's football team hadn't seen enough at its Benny Monroe Stadium, Mother Nature had.
With 3:03 to play in the third quarter and Walker Valley leading 34-0, the neighboring rivals were chased from the field not by the ever-increasing deluge but by a pair of powerful bolts of lightning.
The Region 4-5A game was halted at 9:33 and was called rather than suspended at about 9:52.
As unlikely as it seems, a first-series fumble at Walker Valley's 6-yard line may have been the Blue Raiders' undoing. It turned out to be their deepest penetration of the night, and Walker Valley took advantage almost immediately.
The Mustangs (3-3, 1-1) drove to their own 31 and Kolten Gibson handed off to Alex King. The junior, who on this night would be a one-man wrecking crew, split the middle of the Cleveland defense and then turned on the burners for a 69-yard opening score.
A pick-and-choose runner at the line of scrimmage but a knees-and-elbows power back with speed, King added two more rushing TDs and a 54-yard passing score with Gibson.
The Mustangs went to the locker room at halftime with a 27-0 advantage.
It was a night for celebration in the visiting dressing room, the county Mustangs beating the city school for the first time since 2008. It was the first win in the series as Walker Valley coach for Glen Ryan, who got close last year in a seven-point loss. The game also will go in the books as the Mustangs' first shutout of the Blue Raiders (3-4, 1-2).
Walker Valley gained 425 offensive yards, with King contributing 180 on 20 carries and Gibson, even in a steady downpour for more than half the game, completing 13 of 18 passes for 243 yards.
King scored four of the Mustangs' five TDs. In addition to the first-quarter 69-yarder, he added a 3-yard run and the 54-yard reception in the second quarter and, with the rain coming down harder and harder, pushed across what would be his team's final score on a bullish 6-yard run with 7:10 remaining in the third period.
Walker Valley's other score came on a 18-yard pass from Gibson to Cooper Melton with 23 seconds left in the first half.
Melton had quite a night, hauling in six of Gibson's offerings for 99 yards.
On the other side, Cleveland was limited to 106 yards of offense with Keegan Jones leading the way on 10 carries for 61 yards. Walker Valley's defense came up with three fumble recoveries, six tackles for loss (led by Ben Clark and Skyler Swafford) and two sacks.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.