Walker Valley's Bryce Nunnelly (23) scores on a two-point conversion. The Soddy-Daisy Trojans visited the Walker Valley Mustangs in TSSAA football action on October 6, 2016
(Photo: Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.)
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — By Kolten Gibson's standards to date, he had an off night.
However, the junior quarterback was good enough to throw four touchdown passes and run for another score as Walker Valley bolted from a 35-21 halftime advantage Thursday night to a 61-28 Region 4-5A victory over Soddy-Daisy.
"He wasn't on tonight, a little rusty. He was throwing a little high and, whew, he missed an opportunity once when he didn't see a guy wide open down the middle," Mustangs coach Glen Ryan said. "Shoot, I told him, we're not going to be super sharp week in and week out."
But the first thing he said in his postgame comments to his players (5-2, 2-1) were that they were going to have to sharpen the blade.
"We looked very lethargic tonight. You look up there and see 61 points and you think, Coach, what do you want? We had opportunity after opportunity and stumbled and fumbled around," Ryan said. "There was a point there where it was almost a one-score game, and we made a defensive stand and began pulling away.
"But if we put 61 up there and not have our best game, then I feel like we'll be OK. We just have to sharpen it up down the stretch. Thankfully tonight, the defense got some turnovers and gave us some good opportunities."
Those turnovers were the Trojans' Achilles heel. They had six fumbles and lost four and also had two passes intercepted.
"They took advantage of the turnovers, and they have a great offense," Soddy-Daisy coach Justin Barnes said. "You turn it over and they're going to put 60 on you."
The Trojans (2-5, 1-3) kept it relatively close in the first half and seemed glad to have quarterback Justin Cooke back in the fold. The senior, who suffered a knee injury very early in the season, was released by doctors late this week and actually contributed 121 first-half yards. However, he was ejected from the game, allegedly for kicking a Mustangs player who refused to let go of his ankle long after the whistle had blown.
He later said he was just trying to get free to walk away.
"A stupid act. He may be done for next week, too," Barnes said. "We get him back for a half and then take ourselves out of the game. We'll have to see what the TSSAA says."
Also returning to the lineup for the Trojans this week was Ty Boeck, who had been the replacement for Cooke until he suffered a low-ankle sprain two weeks ago.
Returning after sitting out last week, the junior ran for 13 yards and caught five passes for 51 yards before moving back to quarterback. He completed eight of 15 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns with one interception on what was basically a "Hail Mary" pass.
Walker Valley also had two kickoff returns for scores, from Bryce Nunnelly and Nathan Zakkas.
While Gibson's performance didn't match earlier performances — like 512 yards of offense last week — running back Alex King and the offensive line appear to be rounding into shape. King rushed for 141 yards and two scores and also turned a short pass into a 15-yard TD reception.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him atTwitter.com/wardgossett.