Walker Valley sophomore quarterback Kolten Gibson (3) runs for yardage in the second half against Soddy-Daisy in Region 4-5A action Friday in Soddy-Daisy.
(BANNER PHOTO, LYNNAE ROBERTS)
SODDY-DAISY — Walker Valley recovered from an opening 76-yard kick return, a weather delay of nearly two hours, slippery field and football conditions only to be thwarted by a late Soddy-Daisy touchdown in a game that finally came to a close just after midnight.
Soddy-Daisy answered an 80-yard, game-tying touchdown pass by the Mustangs late in the fourth quarter with a scoring drive that left Walker Valley on the short end of a 41-34 final in Friday’s Region 4-5A matchup.
“We didn’t stop them when we needed to stop them. We didn’t get things done offensively either at times,” said a subdued Mustangs coach Glen Ryan afterward.
Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson sliced the Trojans’ secondary for 287 yards, but a pair of incomplete passes with less than a minute to play with the Mustangs down by seven points put a period on the long, wet night for Walker Valley.
“We had times we could have gotten up on them by three touchdowns and we stalled out, we kept giving them chances. They have too many good athletes,” the Walker Valley coach stated.
The Mustangs (3-4, 0-2 Region 4-5A) gave up only 115 yards in the air, but the Trojans (5-2, 3-1) gashed the Walker Valley defense for 488 yards rushing and four second-half scores.
“They found some stuff that was working for them and we didn’t get it stopped,” said Ryan. “It’s just one of those ball games. They are a good football team. I felt like our kids played hard. We just came up on the short end of the stick tonight.”
The Mustangs recovered from the opening TD beginning with a 30-yard Sam Gibson field goal. After a weather delay of nearly two hours, Walker Valley struck quickly with a 44-yard Kolten Gibson to Zach Eslinger touchdown that put Walker Valley out front 10-6 with just under two minutes left in the almost three hour first quarter.
Walker Valley’s Bryce Nunnelly set up the next Mustang’s score with a diving interception at the Soddy 45-yard line. Three plays later, Nunnelly was on the receiving end of a 43-yard TD reception from Gibson that put the Mustangs on top 17-6 as time ran out in the quarter.
Soddy-Daisy cut the margin to 17-12 to open the second, but the Gibson to Nunnelly combo struck again with 9:05 left in the first half with another scoring strike, this time from 21 yards out. Sam Gibson’s PAT put the finishing touch on the five-play jaunt that put the Mustangs out front 24-12.
Soddy made it a 24-19 game on its first possession of the third quarter with a 2-yard score to cap a 51-yard march. The Trojans took a two-point lead with just over five minutes left in the third quarter with a second TD from 17 yards out.
Trailing for the second time, the Mustangs — aided by two pass interference flags thrown against the Trojans moved to the Soddy-Daisy 13 where the drive stalled. Sam Gibson repeated his first quarter performance with a second field goal from 30 yards out to give Walker Valley a 27-26 lead with 10:36 left to play.
A short kick left Soddy in good shape at their own 45. The Trojans stayed on the ground for 12 plays and scored from the 6-yard line then converted the 2-point PAT to retake the lead by a score of 34-27.
It took only 15 seconds for the Gibson to Nunnelly tandem to strike again. The Mustangs’ sophomore quarterback found his junior receiver open across the middle, this time for 80 yards and a game-tying score with just over five minutes left in the game.
But the Trojans were equal to the task. After a block in the back penalty on the ensuing kick off moved Soddy-Daisy to its own 16-yard line, The Trojans rode the legs of Christian Bell who broke free on a 49-yard run to the Mustangs 29. Bell slashed the Walker Valley defense for 84 yards on six carries scoring from four yards out with 2:23 left in the game.
The Mustangs turned the football over on downs after failing to produce on a final try to tie the game and the Trojans were able to run out the final seconds to secure the win.
“We came out pretty good right after (the delay), but we just didn’t finish it at times. When you play a team like that, you’ve got to keep the hammer down. We didn’t do it. We let them back in,” said Ryan. “It (the wet conditions) affected us some. Kolten had some problems throwing the quick screens and things like that with a wet ball. They played with a wet ball, too. That’s part of the game. It’s a tough one to lose.”
The Mustangs return to the gridiron Friday in an effort to stay in the region race at home inside “The Corral” against the 2-6 White County Warriors.
“We’ve got three games left in the regular season, who knows? Anything can happen. We’ve just got to keep playing football,” said Ryan.
TROJANS 41, MUSTANGS 34
Walker Valley 17 7 0 10 — 34
Soddy-Daisy 6 6 14 15 — 41
SD — Tre Carter 76 kick return (kick failed), 11:42
WV — Sam Gibson 30 field goal, 3:59
WV — Zach Eslinger 44 pass from Kolton Gibson (Sam Gibson kick), 1:54
WV — Bryce Nunnelly 43 pass from K. Gibson (S. Gibson kick), 0:00
SD — Carter 43 run (2-point try failed), 10:40
WV — Nunnelly 21 pass from K. Gibson (S. Gibson kick), 9:05
SD — Justin Cook 2 run (Carter kick), 8:13
SD — Christian Bell 17 run (Carter kick), 5:07
WV — S. Gibson 30 field goal, 10:36
SD — Bell 6 run (Carter kick), 5:39
WV — Nunnelly 80 pass from K. Gibson (S. Gibson kick), 5:26
SD — Bell 4 run (Carter kick), 1:23
First downs WV 16 SD 23
Rushes-Yards WV 25-157 SD 50-373
Passing WV 287 SD 115
Total yards WV 444 SD 488
Comp-Att-Int WV 15-26-1 SD 11-18-2
Punts-Avg WV 4-26.2 SD 1-21
Fumbles-Lost WV 2-0 SD 1-1
Penalties-Yards WV 7-33 SD 8-87
Rushing: Alex King 17-62 (WV), K. Gibson 13-61 (WV), Avery Jones 3-23 (WV).
Passing: Gibson 15-26-1, 287 (WV); Justin Cooke 11-18-2, 115 (SD).
Receiving: Nunnelly 6-175 (WV), Eslinger 1-44 (WV), Dylan Towers 3-29 (WV), King 3-14 (WV), Cooper Melton 1-11 (WV).
Walker Valley 3-4, 1-2 Region 4-5A
Soddy-Daisy 5-2, 3-1 Region 4-5A.