Bradley Central junior QB Dylan Standifer (8) gets protection from lineman Bailey Timmons working against Walker Valley’s Reid Abel (73) during Friday night’s “County Conflict at The Corral.” Standifer completed all 13 of his passes for 303 yards and accounted for five TDs in the 52-7 Bear victory. (Banner Photo, Robert Cannon)
Coaches often say the most improvement in a season comes between Game 1 and Game 2.
That was sure the case for Bradley Central’s football team, bouncing back from a five-turnover, heartbreaking overtime home loss in the season opener, to a no miscue effort, with a perfect passing night, in a 52-7 blowout in the “County Conflict at the Corral” Friday evening.
“Our kids came out and did what we asked tonight,” proclaimed Bear head coach Damon Floyd. “Our numbers were a lot better this week, especially the penalties and, of course, the fact we didn’t turn the ball over.”
One of the most notable differences came from new starting quarterback Dylan Standifer, who had thrown four interceptions the first week, but completed all 13 of his passes against Walker Valley Friday for 303 yards and a trio of touchdowns, plus he crossed the goal line himself twice.
“Dylan just keeps getting better and better,” the Bear coach praised. “He didn’t let last week affect him. He came out focused and did a great job tonight.
“Walker Valley lost a lot from last year’s team and our defense did a good job of keeping them in check tonight. We held (Zeke) Westfield to just three catches and the one he took for a touchdown was nearly a Pick 6 for us.”
With a tough loss to reigning state champion Farragut and now its largest victory over Walker Valley in 13 meetings under its belt, fourth-ranked Bradley jumps head first into Region 2-6A play this Friday with a short trip down I-75 to face 10th-ranked Ooltewah.
“Ooltewah is tough and has always given us fits,” remarked Coach Floyd.
Although the Bears hold a 17-13 overall edge in the series, the Owls have won 11 of the last 14 meetings.
Ooltewah will be coming off a 62-35 whipping by sixth-ranked Science Hill Friday.
Now 0-2 on the young season, Walker Valley must regroup in a hurry as Rhea County comes calling Friday for the Region 4-5A opener.
The sixth-ranked Golden Eagles are also 0-2 after Cleveland beat them in the final nine seconds of the season opener and Blackman, the No. 2-ranked Class 6A squad in the state, torched them 52-21 this week.
Friday’s “County Conflict” started out like it was going to be a barnburner with a stunning defensive stand by the Mustangs to open the contest and the lead changing hands three times in the first quarter.
All-stater Lameric Tucker returned the opening kickoff 47 yards, plus a penalty on the hosts set the Bears up just 39 yards from the end zone.
After needing only five plays to advance to the Mustang 9, the visitors started going backwards, thanks to tackles for loss by Herd senior Isaiah Alston and junior Chris Crenshaw.
The first of two WV sacks on the evening came on third down when Crenshaw and sophomore Kellar Carson trapped Standifer at the 20.
A missed field goal attempt on the next play kept the Bears off the scoreboard.
However, after a quick three-and-out on the Mustang’s first offensive possession, Bradley struck quickly.
On the first play after the punt, Standifer tossed a swing pass to Tucker, who in turn picked up a key block from senior Nick Howell and sprung free for a 63-yard touchdown down the left sideline.
The extra point kick was wide, so the Bears were up 6-0 with 6:38 left in the opening frame.
Walker Valley answered after the ensuing kickoff with a seven-play scoring drive, with Westfield taking a swing pass from senior Kolten Gibson and racing 43 yards to paydirt.
The PAT by Charlie Swafford gave the hosts their lone lead of the night.
Bradley retook the advantage on the ensuing series with a six-play, 60-yard drive with Howell diving for the pylon to cap a 21-yard scamper for the score.
Standifer kept the ball for the two-point conversion for a 14-7 edge with 1:45 on the first quarter clock.
The Bear defense set up a trio of scores in the second quarter to set the course for the runaway victory.
After stopping the hosts on a fourth-and-2 play, the “Black Hole Defense” gave the quick-strike Bear offense possession at midfield.
Two plays later Standifer hit Howell in the flats and the senior broke free for a 53-yard score after the catch.
After the ensuing kickoff, SEC prospect Jay Person picked up the first of three sacks on the night and then nailed a ’Stang receiver as soon as he caught a screen pass for another loss.
On the next play, Bear nose tackle Parker Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it to the WV 15-yard line.
Four plays later, Standifer scooped up a low snap and ran the ball in from four yards out.
Bradley’s final score of the first half came after the defense forced another three-and-out by the hosts on the following series.
After three straight completions and an 11-yard run by freshman Tray Curry, Standifer punched the ball in from the 1 yard line.
Junior Clay Shoemaker tacked on the third of his four extra points on the night with 2:52 on the clock.
After the intermission, Walker Valley picked up a couple of first downs in the opening possession but stalled at the Bear 21.
Two plays later, Standifer and Tucker hooked up again for another swing pass that the all-stater took to the house for 66 yards to invoke the running-clock rule for the remainder of the game.
Shoemaker added a 20-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With both teams playing reserves in the final frame, Bradley’s last score was set up by an Ashton Dunn interception, returning the ball 20 yards to the Mustang 2.
After a loss on their first try, freshman backup QB Tucker Pope hit Curry for a 4-yard TD toss. Pope completed both of his pass attempts, giving the Bears a final passing line of 15-for-15 for 307 yards.
Rand Schneck, a soccer player who recently joined the team, came on to boot the final point of the night with 8:49 remaining.
“We were able to spread the ball around tonight and get a lot of people playing time,” declared Coach Floyd. “Overall, I’m happy with what we were able to do tonight.”
Tucker finished with 266 all-purpose yards, including 176 on five catches, plus had 90 yards on kick and punt returns.
Howell followed up his big season-opening night with 102 yards on eight carries and a pair of pass receptions.
Both key seniors scored twice on the night.
Senior Stephen Muhonen pulled in five passes for 59 yards, while classmates Adam Mullis and Devin Moore carried the ball three and six times for 35 and 23 yards respectively.
The Bear defense, led by Person’s 11 total hits, including four for loss, held Walker Valley to just 21 rushing yards on 18 carries, plus limited record-setting QB Kolten Gibson to just 141 yards on 18-of-29 passes with the two picks.
Along with his 43-yard score, Westfield caught just two other passes for 14 yards.
Senior Caleb Grannan pulled in five passes for 38 yards, while classmates Brock Gibson and Sam Clements gained 20 yards apiece on three and four receptions respectively for the hosts.
Senior Jordan McIllwain had eight hits for the Bears, while Gentry made five, including a sack.
Sophomore Kole Hall led the Mustang “D” with a dozen total tackles, while senior Cody Duggan, Carson and Alston each were in on six. Three of Alston’s were behind the line of scrimmage.
Bradley Central 14 21 7 10 — 52
Walker Valley 7 0 0 0 — 7
BC— Lameric Tucker 63-yd. pass from Dylan Standifer (kick failed), 6:38
WV — Zeke Westfield 43-yd. pass from Kolten Gibson (Charlie Swafford kick), 3:50
BC — Nick Howell 21-yd. run (Standifer run), 1:45
BC — Howell 52-yd. pass from Standifer (Clay Shoemaker kick), 10:56
BC — Standifer 5-yd. run (Shoemaker kick), 8:11
BC — Standifer 1-yd. run (Shoemaker kick), 2:38
BC — Tucker 66-yd. pass from Standier (Shoemaker kick), 8:25
BC — Shoemaker 20-yd. field goal, 11:54
BC — Tray Curry 4-yd. pass from Tucker Pope (Rand Schneck kick), 8:49
First downs BC 17 WV 9
Rushes-yards BC 28-109 WV 18-21
Passing yards BC 307 WV 141
Total yards BC 416 WV 162
Comp-Att-Int BC 15-15-0 WV 18-29-2
Punts -Ave. BC 0-0 WV 5-38.8
Fumbles-Lost BC 1-0 WV 1-0
Penalties BC 5-48 WV 10-74
Nick Howell 8-47 TD
Adam Mullis 3-35
Devin Moore 6-23
Tray Curry 1-11
Kahlil Lambreth 4-5
Dylan Standifer 6-12 2 TDs
Kallum Lowe 5-22
Dylan Allender 6-1
Kolten Gibson 7- -2
Dylan Standifer 13-13-0 303 yds 3 TDs
Tucker Pope 2-2-0 4 yds
Kolten Gibson 16-26-2 138 yds., 1 TD
Daniel Denton 2-3-0 3 yds.
Lameric Tucker 5-176 2 TDs
Stephen Muhonen 5-59,
Nick Howell 2-55 TD
Saylor Clark 1-13,
Tray Curry 1-4 TD
Trent Roberts 1-0
Zeke Westfield 3-57 TD
Caleb Grannan 5-38
Brock Gibson 3-20
Sam Clements 4-20
Dylan Allender 3-6
Jay Person 3 solos, 8 ast, 3 sacks, 4 TFL
Jordan McIllwain 3 solos, 5 ast
Kevin Gentry 2 sdolos, 3 ast, 1 sack, 1 TFL;
Mason Mitchell 1 solo, 4 ast
Damon Floyd 5 assists
Kole Hall 8 solos, 4 ast
Cody Duggan 4 solos, 2 ast. 1 TFL;
Kellar Carson 4 solos, 2 ast., 1 TFL. 1 sack;
Isaiah Alston 4 solos, 2 ast., 3 TFL
Reid Abel 2 solos, 3 ast. 2 TFL
Bradley Central 1-1
Walker Valley 0-2