Mustangs Battle Lightning & Pounders

Central's Jay Jones (8) closes in on Walker Valley's Heath Tanksley (25) during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

The high school football season in the Chattanooga area started with a bang.

 

Literally.

 

After one play, Thursday night's season opener between Central and Walker Valley at Finley Stadium was delayed by lightning.

 

Once play restarted an hour later, the Purple Pounders provided more lightning on the field in the form of big plays. They had four runs of more than 50 yards — three for touchdowns — and an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in beating the Mustangs 40-28 in the first game of the Erlanger Sports Medicine Chattanooga Kickoff Classic.

 

Central ran the ball 40 times for 396 yards. While the Mustangs' defense keyed on Michael McGhee, the Region 2-4A offensive player of the year in 2017, it was upstart junior Hunter Jones who stole the show, rushing seven times for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

 

"Hunter is a special kid; he's got a chance to do a lot of stuff for us," said Central coach Curt Jones, no relation. "He was one of those kids we challenged to step up early on, and he's responded to the bell."

 

"Mike (McGhee) is the main guy," Hunter Jones said. "I'm striving because I want that top spot, too, so me and him can be up at the top together."

 

His first big play came after Walker Valley took a 3-0 late in the first quarter. His 65-yard run around the outside gave Central a 7-3 lead.

 

The Pounders scored again on their next possession on quarterback Jaheim Jones' only pass completion of the game — a 39-yard strike to Jay Jones.

 

After forcing a three-and-out on defense on the ensuing possession, the Mustangs squandered their best chance to stay in the game when they failed to recover a punt muffed by the Pounders.

 

McGhee made them pay on the very next play when he broke free for a 71-yard touchdown run, giving Central a halftime lead of 20-3. McGhee finished with 18 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

 

"Three big plays was the difference in the first half," Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan said. "We have a lot of positives to take away from tonight, but at the same time we have to learn lessons from tonight, like taking care of the little things."

 

The Mustangs tried to make a game of it late, outscoring the Pounders 25-6 in the final 20 minutes after being down 34-3. Quarterback Griffin Broome ran for one touchdown and threw for two in defeat.

 

Central travels to Red Bank next Friday, while Walker Valley visits Bradley Central.

 

Walker Valley's Heath Tanksley (25) is tackled by Central's Jay Jones (8) during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

Walker Valley gets pumped up around Griffin Broome (2) before taking on Central during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

Central's Jay Jones (8) breaks out of a tackle attempt from Walker Valley's Kole Hall (3) for a touchdown during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

Central's Hunter Jones (4) fights for yards against Walker Valley during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

Walker Valley's Hayden Gibson (70) claps after converting a fourth down against Central during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

Central's Hunter Jones (4) hits Walker Valley's Griffin Broome (2) during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

Walker Valley's Griffin Broome (2) carries the ball against Central during the first game of the Chattanooga Kickoff Classic at Finley Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Times Free Press Photo: C.B. Schmelter)

 

 

 

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