Walker Valley Quarterback Noah Davis (17) hands off to Mason Oran (24). Davis, who filled in for an injured Kolten Gibson, threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more. Oran rushed for 115 yards on 15 carries and had a touchdown. (Photo by Nikki Swafford)
MANCHESTER — Despite missing a trio of key starters, plus having another go down early in the contest, Walker Valley galloped over the mountains and stampeded its way to a much needed victory Friday night.
Minus starting QB Kolten Gibson, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga commitment Bryce Nunnelly and defensive lineman Cody Duggan before the game kicked off and getting just a trio of runs from top-rusher Alex King, Coach Glen Ryan’s Stallions raced out to a 42-7 halftime advantage before securing the 48-28 victory over Coffee County.
Now 2-2 on the season, the Mustangs enjoy a bye this week before getting back to the gridiron Sept. 22 when state-ranked Tyner Academy comes to “The Corral.”
Walker Valley took the game's opening drive 80 yards in seven plays, shaving only two minutes and 14 seconds off the clock after senior Noah Davis, taking over for Gibson directing the offense, scored a rushing touchdown from nine-yards out.
After the Mustang defense forced the host Red Raiders into a three-and-out, the offense needed just a half dozen plays before Davis found paydirt a second time, this one on a two-yard scramble.
For the third week in a row, Coffee County had fallen behind 14-0 in the first quarter, before finally responding with a five-play, 73-yard drive, capped by an Alontae Taylor 55-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit in half.
All of a sudden, the home opener for the Red Raiders looked like it was going to be competitive. However, Walker Valley turned the momentum right back in its favor on the very next play.
Mustang senior Tucker Mendenhall lined up in the backfield, corralled a low direct snap, ran to his right, and launched a pass to classmate Zach Eslinger for 47-yards that pushed the led back to a pair of scores with just 63 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Any hopes by the home team to keep pace were shattered in the second frame as Walker Valley put up three more touchdowns, all coming on connections between Davis and senior receiver Cooper Melton for scores from 36, 48 and 14 yards respectively.
Walker Valley led 42-7 at halftime, getting 331 yards of offense on just 28 plays. Davis hit his first nine passes for 158 yards and the three scores to Melton.
After the intermission, both teams found paydirt once in the third quarter, Taylor got his second score for the hosts, dashing 10 yards with 4:11 on the clock.
Mustang senior Mason Oran capped a 115-yard night on just 13 carries with a 13-yard touchdown run in the final minute.
Coffee County tacked on a pair of fourth quarter scores with Deaaron Rozier plunging in from the 1 and Silas Vaughn going 17 yards for the game’s final TD.
Davis went 10-for-11 through the air, throwing his lone incomplete pass with 4:48 left in the contest. He also ran the ball 10 times for 64 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns.
Melton finished with a half dozen catches for 134 yards and his trio of scores.
Mustang senior Sam Gibson went 7-for-7 on extra point kicks.
Walker Valley finished with 40 total yards and had just four penalties for 32 yards, plus didn’t turn the ball over.
The Mustang defense was led by Skylar Swafford with 16 total tackles, nine of which were solos and one for loss.
Cody Morfield, who caught an 11-yard pass, had a dozen total hits, while Eslinger was in on 10 tackles, plus picked off a Red Raider pass.
Dylan Towers had a half dozen solo tackles in his nine hits, while Logan Manning and Chris Crenshaw were in on eight tackles each.
Oran made five of his seven tackles by himself, plus snatched an interception, returning it 12 yards.