Cleveland Running Back Keegan Jones (21) cuts back against Walker Valley's Kellar Carson in the second half Friday at Benny Monroe Stadium. The Raiders senior returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns in his four-score night in the 67-47 shootout. (Banner Photo: Lynnae Roberts
Last year, Walker Valley unloaded 68 points against Cleveland in a 32-point win over the Blue Raiders. Friday night, Cleveland returned the favor in a large way exacting revenge on the Mustangs to the tune of a 67-47 win that could have been much worse if not for penalty flags.
There were stars on both sides of the ball to be sure in the 104-point scorefest.
Quarterback Kolten Gibson continued to dazzle even though the Mustangs are winless so far this season at 0-5. The strong-arm senior was 26 of 41 for 424 yards and ended the night with 519 total yards.
Gibson has averaged 572.5 total yards in his last two games in which WV has scored 102 points in losses. Against Cleveland Gibson also was the Mustangs' leading rusher with 93 yards on 15 carries.
Conversely, the Blue Raiders (4-2) were strong on the ground speeding their way to 218 yards and five rushing scores. Junior multi-threat standout Micaleous Elder broke out for 195 total yards and five touchdowns, while senior Keegan Jones scored the four other touchdowns and had his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season.
“Obviously, Kolten is an outstanding, not just a good, but an outstanding football player,” praised Blue Raiders coach Scott Cummings. “I have a ton of respect for that kid because not only is he a good runner and thrower, he has also shown a lot of toughness this year. I have a lot of respect for him and his abilities, but that's not much excuse for how we played on defense tonight.”
Walker Valley receiver Zeke Westfield set a new school record with 245 yards on catches from Gibson. Westfield latched onto 10 passes including receptions of 45, 19, 59 and 52 yards.
“Kolten is a playmaker. He had some mistakes because he pressed trying to make something out of nothing sometimes. I can't fault him for that because he's a competitor and he wants to win. Between him and Zeke doing his stuff while not at full speed, they are truly special. I hope somebody will come take a look at them because they need to be playing on Saturdays next year. They are both good football players,” said a subdued Mustangs coach Glen Ryan. “We've just got to get the rest of them to get up to their level. Those two have allowed us to stay in some games.”
Elder again showed his talent for the Blue Raiders. Although the junior receiver only hauled in two passes in the win he made the most of the catches with 79 yards and two touchdowns. Elder flashed his speed on the ground for 108 yards on six carries and three more scores. Jones also had a huge night for the Blue Raiders rushing for 106 yards on 10 touches to go with two scores on the ground and a pair of highlight-reel kickoff return touchdowns.
Cleveland quarterback Kellye Cawood ended the three-hour evening completing 4 of 9 passes for 96 yards.
Jones scored from 5 and 31 yards in the first quarter to give Cleveland a 14-0 lead. The Mustangs missed a chance to take the lead on their first possession when a 45-yard apparent TD pass from Gibson to Westfield was called back for a block in the back.
Elder came through on the ground and through the air for the Blue Raiders in the second quarter scoring on a 15-yard run and a 27-yard pass from Cawood. Elder's second TD of the quarter came after Gibson cut it to 22-7 on a 19-yard scoring run.
“We just can't finish things. We started decent but stalled out. We had the touchdown called back then put them in the long yardage situation and they ran that doggone draw play on us that we have talked about and worked on all week. They scored and we just started falling apart the first half. We got way behind,” said Ryan.
Cleveland led 29-7 at halftime after leaving 21 points on the field on long scores nullified by yellow flags. The Raiders lost another seven points in the third quarter on a Jones kick return that was also flagged.
“Obviously, we would like to not have touchdowns called back. That seems to be way too much a reoccurring theme,” said Cummings. “This is the greatest team sport in all of sports. We win as a team, we lose as a team. We've got to come to work as coaches on Sunday and fix some things, bottom line. The players have to come ready to work on Monday, ready to follow through with the plan we put in place.”
There were no flags on the spanking new artificial surface when Jones took the second half kick and raced 94 yards untouched to the end zone to put the Raiders on top 36-7.
From there, the scoreboard on the north end of Raider Field heated up.
A Gibson to Westfield pass and catch for a Walker Valley TD was followed by a Kallum Lowe score followed by a 23-yard Gibson to Sam Clements touchdown pass in front of a Gibson to Caleb Grannan for 13 yards TD that led to an 11-yard Gibson scramble and fumble at the 1-yard line recovered by Grannan in the end zone for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders' Elder raced in for a 7-yard score and Jones lit out for 87 yards on yet another kick return for a touchdown in an otherwise uneventful quarter for Cleveland in comparison.
When the long quarter finally came to a close the Mustangs had racked up 34 points to Cleveland's 14 but still trailed 50-41. In 12 minutes of play, Gibson racked up a total of 211 yards through the air after compiling 108 in the first two quarters.
“We saw some good things defensively. We had some stops just not enough of them. We had three long returns on our kickoff team. That's crazy. All we can do is get back in and get to work and put it together,” said a searching Ryan. “When you're like we are it's not about working on schemes, it's about fundamentals, and getting better at the little things. As we get better at the little things we will get better as a football team.”
The Blue Raiders snapped out of their defensive slump in the fourth quarter holding the Mustangs to only one score, a 57-yard Kolten Gibson to Brock Gibson pitch and catch that made it 56-47.
“We challenged them at halftime and they stepped up. We got to within a score. Then we had a breakdown. We drive back down and score again but we were playing catch-up. We weren't able to score and they pulled ahead. I was proud of our kids in the fact they kept battling. They made a lot of mistakes but we didn't roll over and quit tonight,” said Ryan.
“As young as we are we're making mistakes right now but they showed a lot of heart and they showed me they've got a lot of fight in them. We've just got to keep working and keep trying to get better. These kids are great kids. I hurt for them right now and I want to see them find a way to get a win one of these nights.”
Cleveland picked it up on offense in the final 12 minutes with Elder catching a 52-yard TD pass and running in from 47 yards. Harshil Patel put the finishing touch on the night with a 31 yard field goal with six minutes left.
“We kind of knew our size, strength and our speed could show up in the trenches. Take back a couple of 80-yard touchdowns and whatnot it would have been even more evident. We could have scored a whole lot of points tonight. We did. We scored a bunch of points tonight. I'm not sure what to say about the rest,” said Cummings who, although happy with the win, said the defense has work to do.
“We've just got to fix it,” he continued. “We cannot go through some teams on our schedule and have wide open holes in the defense. There's not a way to sugar coat that, we've just got to get better. I thought special teams aside from a botched snap on an extra point and a bad snap on a punt (was good). Our kickoff coverage has gotten a lot better and obviously our kickoff return team is not going to see many kickoffs to Keagan Jones. We've got to come ready to work.”
Sidetracks: The Blue Raiders had three kick-off returns for TDs, one was called back for holding in the third quarter. Jones scored on kick returns of 95 and 87 yards … Cleveland had two scores of 80 yards, a 95-yard kick return and a 21-yard run called back for holding … The Blue Raiders returned two kickoffs back-to-back for TDs in the third quarter … Cleveland punter Cody Matthews pulled the ball down on a fake punt at the 50-yard line and ran to the Walker Valley 11 to set up the first Blue Raiders score … Walker Valley's fifth score was a two play drive with Gibson and Westfield hooking up for 59 yards … The Mustangs' sixth TD of the game on one play after a bad snap on a Cleveland punt set Walker Valley up at the Cleveland 13-yard line … The Mustangs missed a field goal attempt in the first half.
at Benny Monroe Stadium
Walker Valley 0 7 34 6 — 47
Cleveland 14 15 21 17— 67
C— Keegan Jones 5-yd run (Harshil Patel kick), 4:05
C — Jones 21-yd. run (Patel kick, 2:51
C — Micaleous Elder 15-yd. run (Elder run), 4:13
WV — Kolten Gibson 19-yd. run (Charlie Swafford kick), 2:31
C — Elder 27-yd. pass from Kellye Cawood (Patel kick), :00
C — Jones 95-yd. kickoff return (Patel kick), 11:42
WV — Zeke Westfield 59-yd. pass from K. Gibson (Swafford kick), 10:47
C — Elder 1-yd. run (Patel kick), 8:32
WV— Kallum Lowe 2-run (Swafford kick), 7:26
WV — Sam Clements pass from K. Gibson (Swafford kick), 3:54
WV — 13-yd. pass from K. Gibson (Swafford kick), 2:04
C — Jones 87-yd. kickoff return (kick failed), 1:46
WV — Grannan fumble recovery (kick failed), :46
C — Elder 52-yard pass from Cawood (kick failed), 11:46
WV— Brock Gibson 57-yd pass from K. Gibson (Swafford kick), 8:37
C — Elder 47-yd. run (Jones run), 7:44
C — Patel 31-yd. field goal, 6:04
First downs 14 (WV) 22 (C)
Rushes-yards 25-88 (WV) 37-227 (C)
Passing yards 424 (WV) 94 (C)
Total yards 512 (WV) 321 (C)
Comp-Att-Int 27-42-2 (WV) 4-10-0 (C)
Punts -Ave.1-23 (WV) 2-36 (C)
Fumbles-Lost 7-1 (WV) 2-1 (C)
Penalties 12-102 (WV) 9-77 (C)
Kolten Gibson 16-95 TD
Kallum Lowe 5-12 TD
Micaleous Elder 6-108 3 TDs
Keegan Jones 6-108 2 TDs
Cody Matthews 1-35
Kolten Gibson 27-42-2 424 4 TDs
Kellye Cawood 4-9-0 96 2 TDs
Zeke Westfield 10-245 TD
Brock Gibson 2-60 TD
Sam Clements 8-50 TD
Caleb Grannan 4-51 TD
Luke Wallace 2-18
Elder 2-79 2 TDs
Robert Flowers 1-9
Walker Valley 0-5