Bradley Central Takes Advantage Of Walker Valley Mistakes To Win Season Opener

Bradley Central's Cason Still upends Walker Valley's Alex King (33) during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn.  (Photo by Doug Strickland-Times Free Press.)

 

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — While its opponent, Walker Valley, struggled to find its footing in the opening minutes of their season-opening, nondistrict rivalry game Thursday night, Bradley Central took advantage of every mistake presented to it.

 

Despite only 39 yards on their first three touches, the Class 6A Bears scored 21 first-quarter points off a number of Mustangs mistakes on special teams and cruised to a 40-28 win at Bear Stadium.

 

Bradley's first two possessions started inside the Walker Valley 25. The Class 5A eighth-ranked Mustangs — hampered by mistakes all night — fumbled the opening kickoff. That led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Adam Mullis, who scored three times in the game.

 

Walker Valley's second possession went three-and-out. On fourth down, the snap sailed over the punter's head and was recovered on the 15-yard line. The Bears responded with a touchdown on a halfback pass, with Devin Moore finding Nick Howell on a 19-yard score that was initially tipped by a Mustang defender.

 

The Mustangs got on the board with scores on their next two possessions — a 51-yard completion from Kolten Gibson to Cooper Melton and a four-yard run by Alex King — but the Bears responded to Melton's score with an 85-yard kickoff return by Lameric Tucker.

 

Mullis added his second score of the half a minute into the second quarter for the Bears, who led 28-14 at the half.

 

The Bears played conservatively in the second half, with Moore, who had 67 of his 92 rushing yards in the second half, scoring in the third quarter and Mullis adding his third score of the game on the first play of the fourth.

 

Bradley coach Damon Floyd said a key was his team's depth. Whereas the Mustangs had a number of players playing both ways and cramping in the second half, no Bear plays both offense and defense.

 

Walker Valley scored on a 10-yard fumble recovery by Cody Morfield after Dylan Towers fumbled at the end of a 55-yard reception, and the Mustangs scored in the final minute of the game on a Zach Eslinger 7-yard catch with 1:39 to play.

 

Mullis had 57 yards to go with his three scores. Quarterback Cole Copeland, who has committed to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was 7-for-13 for 105 yards passing as the Bears ran on 46 of 62 plays.

 

Gibson finished with 376 passing yards, with Eslinger's 10 catches topping the Mustangs and Melton's 115 yards — all in the first half — leading the way.

 

Bryce Nunnelly, who like Copeland has committed to UTC next season, had five catches for 97 yards.

 

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.

 

Bradley Central's Hunter Duggan tackles Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland -Times Free Press.)

 

The ball is snapped over the head of Walker Valley kicker Justin Rowland during their prep football game against Bradley Central at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Walker Valley's Cooper Melton tackles Bradley Central's Nick Howell during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Bradley Central's Cason Still tackles Walker Valley's Alex King (33) during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson passes during their prep football game against Bradley Central at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Walker Valley's Bryce Nunnelly catches a pass ahead of Bradley Central's Jeffrey Brewer during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Bradley Central's Cameron Thompson tackles Walker Valley's Cooper Melton during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Bradley Central's Cameron Thompson tackles Walker Valley's Cooper Melton during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Walker Valley quarterback Kolten Gibson hands off the ball to running back Alex King during their prep football game at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

Walker Valley player Mason Oran pushes teammate Grayson Rountree away from an official after a personal foul call against the team during their prep football game against Bradley Central at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

 

The Walker Valley student section holds and effigy of the Bradley Central mascot during their prep football game against Bradley Central at Bradley Central High School on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Cleveland, Tenn. (Photo by Doug Strickland - Times Free Press.)

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