Walker Valley senior Clint Davis (72) brings down a Rhea County ball carrier Bradley Goodwin (40) during Friday evening's Region 4-5A action in Evensville. (Photo: Nikki Swafford)
EVENSVILLE — Starting the pigskin season with a trio of tough road games has taken its toll on Walker Valley, running its current losing streak to a half dozen.
The Mustangs crossed the Tennessee River with high hopes on muggy Friday night in Rhea County, but to no avail as the 14th-ranked Golden Eagles left no doubt in the minds of the large gathering of Green-and-Gold clad faithful, dominating the contest from start to finish, posting a 49-10 thumping of the visitors.
After suffering double-digit losses to Chattanooga Central and Bradley Central in their first two games of the young season, the Mustangs jumped into Region 4-5A play, but had no answer for the Golden Eagles high-flying offensive attack.
The home-standing birds protected their nest, seemingly scoring at will at times with a trio of touchdowns in the opening quarter and three more in the second frame to put the game out of reach long before the bands took the field at halftime.
Aubrey Smith took the opening kickoff into Mustang territory and three plays later the Eagles were in the end zone for the first score of the night as senior quarterback Zack Pemberton waltzed to paydirt from seven yards out on a beautifully executed read-option fake.
The Eagles capitalized on a Mustang fumble two plays later and needed only two plays of their own to score again. This time, fullback Chandler Taylor bowled his way into the end zone from six yards out.
Pemberton added a 15-yard scamper for a score near the end of the first quarter and then hooked up with Smith on a 30-yard strike on the first play of the second frame to quickly push the Eagle advantage to 28-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Mustangs as a fumble on the next snap set up another Pemberton touchdown. The Eagle QB capped off his amazing first half of work with another touchdown pass to Smith, this time for 28 yards to move the lead to 42-0 just before halftime.
One of the few bright spots for the Mustangs occurred just before the break as linebacker Zach Hovey stopped an Eagle drive by recovering a fumble and with 30 seconds left, the visitors pounced on another Rhea fumble to set up a 28-yard Charlie Swafford field goal to slice the Eagle lead to 42-3 at halftime.
The Eagles substituted early and often the rest of the way. Walker Valley opened the third quarter with their most impressive drive of the game, a 10-play scoring march as they rode the broad shoulders of sophomore running back Heath Tanksley for their lone touchdown of the night. Tanksley carried the ball on nine of the 10 plays for 54 yards, including the final 15-yard dash to the end zone, cutting the lead to 42-10.
Rhea County tacked on one more touchdown by freshman quarterback Kyle Carr from two yards out after a 65 yard kickoff return from freshman Stoney Colbaugh.
Pemberton amassed 130 yards rushing, scored four times himself and tossed two more TD passes in his two quarters of work for the unbeaten Golden Eagles (2-0).
The Mustangs (0-3) fought valiantly until the bitter end as the clock ran out on a potential scoring drive in Eagle territory.
Walker Valley will try to put a mark in the win column next Friday night as they finally get to play a game in the friendly confines of The Corral, as Stone Memorial will invade Mustang territory.
Walker Valley 0 3 7 0 — 10
Rhea County 21 21 7 0 — 49
RC — Zack Pemberton 39-yd run (Haden Frashier kick), 10:33
RC — Chandler Kaylor 6-yd run (Frashier kick), 8:54
RC — Pemberton 15-yd run (Frashier kick), 6:24
RC — Aubrey Smith 13-yd pass from Pemberton (Frashier kick), 11:50
RC — Pemberton 2-yd run (Frashier kick), 11:23
RC — Smith 28-yd run (Frashier kick), 5:40
WV — Charlie Swafford 28-yd field goal, :00
WV — Heath Tanksley 15-yd run (Swafford kick) 6:27
RC — Kyle Carr 9-yd run (Frashier kick), 5:27
First Downs WV 10 RC 19
Rushes-Yards WV 39-178 RC 37-378
Passing WV 10 RC 58
Total Yards WV188 RC 436
Comp-Att-Int WV 2-14-2 RC 2-2-0
Punts-Avg.WV 5-33.RC 0-0
Fumbles-Lost WV 2-2 RC 3-3
Penalties-Yards WV 4-30 RC 10-67
Heath Tanksley 31-136 TD
Griffin Broome 4-29
Avery Gray 4-13
Daniel Denton 1-10
Reid Gibson 1-0
Aubrey Smith 2-58 2 TDs.
Walker Valley 0-3, 0-1 Region 4-5A
Rhea County 2-0, 1-0 Region 4-5A.