MADISONVILLE — Walker Valley recovered from a shaky start that saw the Mustangs flagged for 65 first-quarter penalty yards before shifting strategy from a passing game to a running attack between quarters and rolling up 342 yards of offense on their way to a 42-22 blistering of Sequoyah Friday night.
Sophomore running back Alex King and junior quarterback Josh Jones had big nights for Walker Valley. King carried a dozen times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Jones produced 63 yards and two TDs on the ground for the Mustangs.
Backup quarterback Kolten Gibson stepped in to gain 35 yards on five touches for the Mustangs, and Donell Armour banged his way forward for 44 yards on 10 touches.
“The offensive line got Alex going. He wound up with 118 yards rushing. Donell came in and had a couple of nice runs with the younger guys,” said a pleased Mustangs coach Glen Ryan.
In the air, Jones and Gibson combined for only 74 yards, with Bryce Nunnelly pulling down two catches for 60 yards, including a 36-yard reception.
Ryan praised the Walker Valley defense for a solid effort that allowed 330 total yards but held its ground in key situations.
The Mustangs’ toughest challenge came from Sequoyah’s Kayne Roberts, who bounced through the Walker Valley line for 250 yards on 24 carries including a 76-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs struggled with penalties and the passing game in the early going. Jones' fourth pass of the first quarter was picked off by the Chiefs at the Walker Valley 43-yard line. Sequoyah moved the ball to the 25, where the Mustangs regained possession with a stop on a fourth-and-5 play.
“That just kills you. A couple of them (penalties) I didn't understand, but that's part of it. I told our guys when you are on the road you are going to have bad things happen, and you have to overcome them,” said Ryan.
“Give the kids credit. They bounced back. They didn't let it bother them. They (Sequoyah) came down and got the touchdown, then our defense shut them down pretty much the rest of the game.”
Jones connected with Bryce Nunnelly for 34 yards on the fifth play of the drive, and King set the Mustangs up at the Sequoyah 13 two plays later. From there, the march stalled, and a 33-yard field goal attempt bounced off the top of the right upright keeping the game scoreless.
The Chiefs made good on a drive that started late in the first quarter, with the first score of the game with less than a minute gone in the second. The Chiefs took an 8-0 lead when a bad snap on an extra-point attempt turned into a two-point conversion.
“The first quarter we kind of struggled. We probably should have run the ball sooner. They (Sequoyah) were there. They saw our passing game, and they were playing our passing game pretty good,” said Ryan.
“We talked about running the ball more in between quarters and making them pack in. We ended up not having to throw it as it turned out.”
It took the Mustangs less than 10 plays to catch and pass the Chiefs on their next two possessions.
Avery Jones set Walker Valley up in business with a 26-yard kick return to the Mustangs' 35-yard line. Colton Gibson, in for Jones, took his first snap of the night and connected with Nunnelly for 24 yards to the Sequoyah 41. One play later, Gibson handed the ball to King who broke free for 41 yards and the first Walker Valley touchdown. Kevin Sabany made it an 8-7 game with the extra point.
The two quarterback offense is a luxury new to Walker Valley and one that has Ryan enthusiastic about the future of Mustangs football.
“We wanted to get Colton some work and felt like this was a game we could get him some work. Josh is our starter, but we wanted to give Colton a chance to show what he could do. He did some good things and kept his composure. He did a nice job. Give credit to our offensive line. They did a nice job of taking care of business and not putting a lot of pressure on a young quarterback. It was easy for him to come in there and direct the offense.” Ryan lauded.
“It's a nice problem to have when you've got two quarterbacks. We have struggled to have one; now we've got two. We're excited about what's going on right now. We're excited about our future.”
Brendan Gilbert put the Mustangs on the hunt once again after recovering a Chiefs fumble at the Sequoyah 31. King picked up a quick 28 yards, setting the Mustangs up with a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. The Mustangs found the going tough in the middle finding themselves with in a fourth-and-inches situation where Jones simply lowered his head and followed his offensive line across the goal line. Sabany's kick put the Mustangs on top 14-8 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
Gilbert stepped up big again with four minutes to go in the second quarter with his second fumble recovery after the Chiefs muffed a Walker Valley punt.
A pass interference call on Sequoyah moved the ball to the Chiefs 16. King blasted his way to the 3-yard line before bulling into the end zone on the next play for his second TD of the game giving the Mustangs a 21-8 lead.
Sequoyah missed a chance to close the gap late in the half when a field goal attempt fell well short of the target.
The second half was all Walker Valley.
Jones capped a 69-yard, six-play drive on the Mustangs' first possession of the second half with a 3-yard plunge to notch his second TD of the night. Sabany opened the Walker Valley lead to 28-8 with the PAT.
With Jones continuing to call the shots on the field for the Mustangs, Walker Valley kept the pressure on the Sequoyah defense, this time moving 67 yards in six plays. The Mustangs field general called his own number for 18 yards to the Chiefs' 28 where the Mustangs were helped by an unsportsman call on Sequoyah. Jones and the Mustangs overcame a Walker Valley motion penalty with a 17-yard quarterback carry into the end zone to put the Mustangs on top 35-8.
The Chiefs made it a 35-15 game with a score early in the fourth quarter only to watch as the Mustangs plowed through an exhausted Sequoyah defense for their final TD of the game.
King picked up 27 yards to open the drive as the Mustangs stayed on the ground burning time off the clock. With just under nine minutes left in the game, Armour rolled through the wearied Chiefs for 12 yards to paydirt to give Walker Valley a 42-15 advantage.
The Chiefs added a final TD on Roberts’ 76-yard scamper with 5:36 left to make the final score 42-22.
Sophomore quarterback Noah Davis stepped under center for Walker Valley as Ryan turned the reins over to his younger Mustangs to close out the game.
“We played a lot of kids tonight. We played our young kids on both sides of the ball toward the end and it's always good to get those guys in and get them some time. We didn't have many opportunities like that in the past. It's good to have a game where you can get the young guys in and get them some experience too,” Ryan said of the young Herd.
“I'm proud of the coaches and the job they did getting the team ready. I'm proud of the guys for the job they did. We've just got to keep this thing going and we've got to keep working ever day and getting better.”
Ryan also said Walker Valley has the weapons needed to make a strong run at a successful season.
“It was a total team effort. If you want to stop our receivers, we've got some running backs that can hurt you. If you want to stop them, we've got some receivers that will hurt you,” he said. “That's what is so good about having the talent level we've got right now. We're not limited like we have been in the past to just that one guy or two guys. We've got a bunch of guys and we get a lot of touches with a bunch of guys. You have to defend the whole team and that's hard to do.”
The Mustangs face their toughest test of the young season with a road trip to powerful East Hamilton next week. Ryan is counting on the lessons learned in the first two games to keep winning streak alive.
“We've got a huge game next week. The first two games you hope they are kind of tuneups to get ready to go into a tough region. East Hamilton is an outstanding football team,” he said. “We've got to go out and get better even more so than we were tonight if we are going to have a chance to play with them. We're excited about it. We're excited to be in this situation, to have the opportunity to play those kinds of teams.”
MUSTANGS 42, CHIEFS 22
Walker Valley 0 21 14 7 — 42
Sequoyah 0 8 0 14 — 22
S — Kayne Roberts 1 run (Aaron White pass to Isiah Black), 11:24
WV — Alex King 41 run (Kevin Sabany kick), 10:56
WV — Kolten Gibson 1 run (Sabany kick) 8:05
WV — King 3 run (Sabany kick), 3:55
WV — Josh Jones 3 run (Sabany kick), 8:10
WV — Jones 17 run (Sabany kick), 3:14
S — Caleb Miner 6 run (White kick), 10:28
WV — Donell Armour 12 run (Sabany kick), 8:45
S — Roberts 76 run (White kick), 5:36
First downs 19 16
Rushes-Yards 44-268 42-313
Passing 74 26
Total yards 342 330
Comp-Att-Int 5-15-1 5-17-0
Punts-Avg 4-36.5 4-33.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 7-74 10-70
Rushing: Alex King 12-118, Josh Jones 9-63, Donell Armour 10-44, Kolten Gibson 5-35 (WV); Roberts 24-250, Bradley Hall 4-25, Miner 5-25, D’Marcus Brewster 2-13 (S).
Passing: Josh Jones 3-11-1, 52; Kolten Gibson 1-3-0, 24 (WV); Dylan Moses 1-4, 25 (S).
Receiving: Bryce Nunnelly 2-60 (WV); Josh Brewer 1-28 (S).
Records: Walker Valley 2-0; Sequoyah 1-1.