OAK RIDGE - Fourth-seeded Walker Valley High School scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter on its way to a 35-27 upset of No. 1 Oak Ridge Friday night on Blankenship Field in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Junior quarterback Kolten Gibson racked up 422 yards in total offense to lead the Mustangs (7-4), who travel to Ooltewah (9-2) next week.
“He (Gibson) is a stud --he’s a good football player,” said Oak Ridge coach Joe Gaddis.
Gibson completed 19 of 31 passes for 310 yards. He also ran for 112 yards on 20 carries.
Oak Ridge (8-3) saw a late comeback attempt end with two incomplete passes in the end zone to Tee Higgins in the final 6.6 seconds from the Walker Valley 4.
“We had a couple of opportunities to get the ball to Tee but didn’t connect,” said Gaddis.
Oak Ridge trailed 35-20 midway through the fourth quarter before rallying.
Quarterback Johnny Stewart scored on a 1-yard run with 8 minutes, 35 seconds to play to cut the deficit to 35-27.
Walker Valley also thwarted an Oak Ridge threat with 1:20 to play when Cooper Melton picked off a Stewart pass intended for Higgins at the goal.
Oak Ridge raced to a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of 11 and 64 yards by sophomore Jordan Graham in the opening five minutes.
Graham totaled 180 yards rushing on 16 carries.
But the game turned when Gibson hooked up with Melton on an 81-yard touchdown strike with 6:18 to play in the first quarter.
“That seemed to be a huge momentum changer and we never recovered until the third quarter,” said Gaddis.
“That changed the whole complexion of the game.”
Stewart scored on a 1-yard run late in the first quarter, but the second quarter was all Walker Valley.
Gibson scored on runs of 7 and 5 yards and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Mason Oran. Oran also scored on a 3-yard run as the Mustangs led 35-20 at halftime.
Mike Blackerby is a freelance contributor.