“We didn’t play well, and we didn’t execute,” Lockerby said after his Mustangs opened the 2011 season on the short end of a 39-17 score against the Pioneers.
The Mustangs grabbed the lead early and appeared to be the dominant team. That dominance didn’t last long as East Ridge took control in the second quarter with speed on offense and a tough defense.
The Pioneers limited Walker Valley to a one-dimensional game, allowing only one pass completion for two yards. East Ridge, on the other hand, had 134 yards passing and 236 on the ground for a total of 370 yards.
The Mustangs rushed the football with some consistency, getting 221 yards on the ground, but the lack of a passing attack was a killing statistic.
Coach Mike Martin was pleased with the season-opening victory by his Pioneers. “It was a good win,” Martin said after the game. “We settled down in the second quarter and played outstanding defense.
“We had some adversity during the week,” continued the East Ridge coach. “We lost a couple of linemen on Wednesday, and we were really concerned. But, we were able to put pressure on them and wouldn’t let them throw the football.”
Lockerby gave credit to the East Ridge effort, despite his disappointment. “They came out and outplayed us,” he said. “They played well.”
“We hurt ourselves with careless penalties and we had a lack of discipline,” the Mustangs’ head coach emphasized. Looking at his lineup sheet, where he had scribbled down the mistakes his team made during the game, Lockerby added, “I’ve never written down this much!”
“We need to practice harder, and be able to take that to the game,” Lockerby said. “We just had a lack of efficiency tonight.”
One of the biggest mistakes of the night for the home team came in the second quarter after East Ridge had scored to cut a Walker Valley lead to 7-6. Sophomore Colton Morrow took the Pioneers’ kickoff at his 5, cut up the middle and raced all the way to the end zone for an apparent touchdown.
A block in the back as Morrow was crossing the goal brought the ball back out to the 11. The Mustangs moved inside the 10 on a pass interference call, but then had to settle for a 34-yard field goal from placekicker Aidan Flock.
That inability to score a touchdown apparently took the wind out of Walker Valley’s sails. East Ridge scored 26 points before the Mustangs returned to the scoreboard.
“That penalty really hurt us,” Lockerby said after the game.
East Ridge rallied to take the lead, 13-10, and added a third score in the final seconds of the half to take control of the game. Two quick touchdowns at the start of the second half had the Pioneers on top by a 32-10 count and it was an uphill battle for the Mustangs the rest of the way.
Walker Valley got some production from running backs Kelvin Wells Jr. and Keefer Hunter, but couldn’t get anything through the air against a tough East Ridge defense. Wells had 21 rushes for 113 yards and scored both of his team’s touchdowns. Hunter got 89 yards on 14 strong rushes.
Aaron Sternes led East Ridge in rushing with 121 yards on 11 carries, scoring a 48-yard touchdown late in the game. ShaQuille Holland had 25 yards on five carries, while Trey Toran added 27 yards on four rushes. Demetrius Bumpass and Eric McCurdy split playing time at quarterback.
Avious Griffin sparked the Pioneers’ passing attack with four catches for 76 yards, one catch going for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Walker Valley got a big break on the opening kickoff, recovering a fumble to take possession at the East Ridge 34. The Mustangs tried to strike quickly on a long pass, but Holland picked the ball off in the end zone and returned it to Walker Valley’s 39.
East Ridge fumbled again on second down, and this time the Mustangs capitalized. Wells capped a 57-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run, gaining 48 yards for the Mustangs. Flock, the team’s placekicker, was perfect on his kick for a 7-0 lead.
The Pioneers rallied early in the second quarter with a 78-yard drive for a matching touchdown. Holland got the touchdown from the 1, but placekicker Tad Whitaker was wide right on his extra-point try, leaving the Mustangs on top, 7-6.
Morrow then struck with his long kickoff return, but the block in the back took the points off the clock. Flock’s field goal had Walker Valley on top, 10-6.
East Ridge got two additional touchdowns before the half for a 19-10 lead at intermission. Bumpass passed to Griffin for a 48-yard score, and Holland ran in from the 2.
The Mustangs still had hopes of pulling out a victory, but the chances dimmed at the start of the second half.
Bumpass hit Trey Toran on an 18-yard pass for six points with 5:19 left in the third quarter for a 25-10 lead, and the Pioneers scored again 18 seconds later.
Walker Valley quarterback Garrett Wallace attempted a pass to open the ensuing series, but his arm was hit as he was throwing. The “wounded duck” fluttered into the air and was grabbed along the sideline by defender Emmanual Harris, who raced 35 yards untouched to the end zone.
Walker Valley collected another score after a third fumble recovery. Chandler Hunt got the loose football at the East Ridge 41 and the Mustangs scored in five plays. Wells got the points on a 12-yard run and Flock ended Walker Valley’s scoring for the night with only 4:58 remaining on the clock.
East Ridge got one final touchdown, taking advantage of a tired Walker Valley secondary when Sternes raced down the right sideline from 48 yards out ... without being touched.
Walker Valley will try to break into the win column this week with a second consecutive home game. The Mustangs will host the Hixson Wildcats at 7:30 Friday night.