Walker Valley wide receiver Bryce Nunnelly breaks free for a 54-yard touchdown run on the second play of the Region 4-5A game against White County Friday, inside “The Corral.”
(BANNER PHOTO, Lynnae Roberts)
Walker Valley set the tone early in Friday’s win over White County.
Bryce Nunnelly broke free for a 54-yard touchdown on the second play of the game, Skyler Swafford recovered a Warriors fumble on the fourth snap and Kolten Gibson hooked up with Cooper Melton for a 19-yard TD toss on the sixth play of the game that sent the Mustangs off and running to a 55-17 pummeling of White County.
The victory puts Walker Valley at an even 4-4 (2-2 Region 4-5A) on the season and keeps post-season hope alive as two of the toughest games of the year are looming for the Mustangs against Rhea County and Ooltewah. The Mustangs host the Golden Eagles inside “The Corral” at the Toby McKenzie Football Complex Friday for Senior Night and close out the regular season with a short trip to Ooltewah to take on the Owls.
“I’m proud of the guys. It was a total team effort. The defense played well, the special teams did well and the offense did well. My hat’s off to them and the assistant coaches for getting them ready to play,” said a pleased Mustangs coach Glen Ryan as players and fans celebrated the 38-point victory. “These are fun games. It’s a whole lot better to have fun afterwards than to sit there and walk off sulking.”
The Warriors (2-7, 0-5) bested the Mustangs in the ground game with 267 yards on 52 running plays, putting a pair of late TDs on the board against Walker Valley reserves after trailing by 52 points at the end of three quarters. The Mustangs made up the running disparity averaging more than 10 yards per carry on only 19 tries for 214 yards and four touchdowns.
Mustangs running back Alex King stayed hot with two trips to the end zone. The Walker Valley senior ripped off a 61-yard run then capped the two play drive with a 4-yard TD and put the hosts out front 49-3 with a 67-yard score midway through the third quarter.
Avery Jones chipped in to put the Mustangs on top 42-3 with a 1-yard plunge just before the end of the first half.
Gibson made up the ground differential with two more scoring strikes to the sure-handed Melton on passes of 39 and 1-yard to go with the first quarter TD. All three of Melton’s catches resulted in visits to the end zone. Gibson also had connections of 39, 22 and 28 yards and capped off a stellar night under center with a 10-yard TD toss to Zach Eslinger with just under two minutes left in the third quarter to put the Mustang out front 55-3.
White County picked up only five yards on one completed pass.
Junior QB Noah Davis took over to start the fourth quarter and engineered the Mustangs the rest of the way.
“I was pleased with the guys. They came out and got back to playing like we did against Tyner and against Cleveland. That’s what they are capable of, they just have to start believing in each other. Hopefully, they will start doing that and not regress back,” said Ryan. “We need our young guys to step up a little bit. Hopefully getting out and getting them some playing time will help them grow up a little bit too.”
The Mustangs finished with 342 yards on 34 snaps compared to 278 yards on the Warriors’ 63 offensive plays.
“When we go out and we play, I feel like we can be a dangerous football team. We’ve just got to keep working and doing the little things,” said an already looking ahead Ryan.
“We’ve got a big game coming up, a very, very potent, hard-hitting, dangerous Rhea County football team. I told the guys we have to play our best games from here on out if we’re going to make the playoffs or have a chance to do something in the playoffs. It doesn’t get any easier. It’s big boy time and we’ve got to step up and play big boy football.”
Mustangs 55, Warriors 17
White County 3 0 0 14 — 17
Walker Valley 21 21 13 0 — 55
WV — Bryce Nunnelly 54-yd. run (Sam Gibson kick), 11:40
WV — Cooper Melton 19-yd. pass from Kolten Gibson (S. Gibson kick), 10:50
WC — Andrew Cantrell 24-yd field goal, 4:34
WV — Melton 39-yd. pass from K. Gibson (S. Gibson kick), 0:9.8
WV — Alex King 4-yd. run (S. Gibson kick), 8:58
WV — Melton 1-yd. pass from K. Gibson (S. Gibson kick), 3:35
WV — Avery Jones 1-yd. run (S. Gibson kick), 1:42
WV — King 67-yd. run (S. Gibson kick), 6:02
WV — Zach Eslinger 10-yd. pass from K. Gibson (kick failed), 1:45
WC — Jake Shockley 8-yd. run (Cantrell kick), 6:05
WC — Chris Richmond 1-yd. run (Cantrell kick), 2:10
First Downs WV 13 WC 14
Rushes-Yards WV 19-214 WC 50-267
Passing WV 128 WC 5
Total yards WV 342 WC 272
Comp-Att-Int WV 8-14-0 WC 1-11-1
Fumbles-Lost WV 1-1 WC 3-3
Penalties-Yards WV 4-50 WC 5-35
WALKER VALLEY HIGHLIGHTS
K. Gibson 8-14-0, 128
Walker Valley 4-4, 2-2
White County 2-7, 0-5