Walker Valley tailback Kelvin Wells Jr. had a sensational game for the Mustangs, despite the loss. The sophomore running back carried the football 30 times for 293 yards and scored all three of his team’s touchdowns. He would have topped the 300-yard plateau, but lost 11 yards on the final play of the game.
Rhea County quarterback Cameron Tallent also had an outstanding offensive performance, getting a majority of the Eagles’ yardage through the air. The senior signal caller completed 15-of-17 passes to seven different receivers for 212 yards and two scores.
Sophomore running back Desmond Sharp had a big game for the Eagles with 22 carries for 128 yards and four touchdowns. Sharp had a 56-yard scoring jaunt erased on a penalty.
Walker Valley 7 0 7 6 — 20
Rhea County 14 14 7 7 — 42
RC — Desmond Sharp 6 pass from Cameron Tallent (Nic Rickert kick), 10:30.
WV — Kelvin Wells Jr. 75 run (Aidan Flock kick), 9:11.
RC — Caleb Sherrill 7 pass from Tallent (Rickert kick), :28.
RC — Tallent 1 run (Rickert kick), 4:16.
RC — Sharp 12 run (Rickert kick), :25.
RC — Sharp 30 run (Rickert kick), 7:38.
WV — Wells 63 run (Flock kick), 1:06.
WV — Wells 1 run (Kick failed), 5:24.
RC — Sharp 23 run (Rickert kick), 2:14
First downs 13 17
Rushes-Yards 39-306 34-153
Passing 36 212
Total Yards 342 365
Comp-Att-Int 3-12-1 15-17-212
Punts-Avg. 2-36 3-36.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 5-30 6-56
Rushing: Kelvin Wells Jr. 30-293 3 TDs, Marcus Hunter 4-19, Logan Hindman 1- -4, Garrett Wallace 2- -28 (WV); Desmond Sharp 22-128 4 TDs, Luke Everett 6-28 (RC).
Passing: Wallace 1-2-0 9, Hindman 2-10-1 27 (WV); Cameron Tallent 15-17-0 212 2 TDs (RC).
Receiving: Hunter Keefer 1-16, Tanner Phillips 1-11, Joseph Lowe 1-9 (WV); Caleb Sherrill 2-74 1 TD, Desmond Sharp 3-17 1 TD, Luke Everett 2-12, Chris Johnson 3-34, Anthony Roddy 1-12, Timmy Loden 2-33, Demetrius Patterson 1-23 (RC).
Records: Walker Valley 1-2, 0-1 District 5-AAA; Rhea County 1-2, 1-0 District 5-AAA.
“It was the most obvious thing,” Coach Ted Lockerby said of his team’s inefficiency in tackling, especially in the first half.
The Mustangs’ coach emphasized that his players have a lot of work ahead of them on this Labor Day weekend. “We have a lot of things we’ve got to work on,” he said after the game. “We’re not rising to the test.”
Lockerby told his Mustangs that they should hold their heads up, and not get down because of Friday’s defeat. “You have to come out and practice hard,” he said. “You have to practice like you play.”
“They were a better team than we were tonight,” Lockerby said of the Eagles as his team dispersed. He admitted the Mustangs (especially Wells and several members of the defense) had some big plays during the game. “But, we didn’t play well enough for four quarters,” he added.
Assistant coach Glen Ryan told the Mustangs after the game, “(Practice) needs to be important to you. It’s football season.”
Statistics for the game were relatively close, despite the 2-1 difference on the scoreboard.
Rhea County had 17 first downs to 13 for the Mustangs. Walker Valley collected 10 marker-movers in the second half while the Eagles got 12 of their first downs in the first two quarters.
The Golden Eagles had 365 yards in total offense, 212 of them through the air. The Mustangs had 342 yards, with 306 on the ground.
Both teams scored early. Rhea County took the opening kickoff and reached the goal in just five plays. Sharp took a pass from Tallent for the final six yards on third down, after the Walker Valley defense had knocked the home team back two yards following a goal-to-go from the four. Ric Rickert, who was perfect on six conversions for the night, kicked the Eagles up by 7-0.
The Mustangs matched Rhea County’s touchdown in just two plays. After a motion penalty on first down, Wells picked up a tough 11 yards and then raced down the right sideline for 75 yards and a score. Aidan Flock’s extra-point kick tied the score at 7.
The rest of the first half was mostly Rhea County, giving the Mustangs a huge hill to climb in the second half.
The Golden Eagles scored on another sustained drive during the final minutes of the first quarter. Paced by Sharp’s running, Rhea County marched 75 yards on 14 plays (with five first downs). Senior Caleb Sherrill got the score on a 7-yard pass from Tallent and Rickert upped the count to 14-7.
Walker Valley went three-and-out on its next series to regain possession, but an interception gave the Eagles the ball back at the Mustangs’ 46. Rhea County covered the 46 yards in nine plays with Tallent getting the touchdown on a 1-yard sneak.
Rhea added a fourth score in the final minute of the second quarter for a 28-7 halftime advantage. Taking control at his own 41 with 1:02 left, Tallent passed the Eagles downfield. Sharp then raced 12 yards to the right corner of the end zone with 25 seconds left.
A punt return by Rhea County’s Dimetrius Patterson to the Walker Valley 18 set up an early score for the Eagles in the second half. After an 11-yard loss and a 10-yard penalty, Sharp broke a number of tackles on his way to a 30-yard touchdown and a 35-7 lead for the home team.
The Mustangs refused to give up, coming back with back-to-back touchdowns. Wells got loose down the right sideline again late in the third quarter on a 63-yard run. He then capped an 80-yard drive for Walker Valley minutes later with a dive over right guard from a yard out. Flock added a second conversion kick, but missed his final try to end the Mustangs’ scoring for the night.
Rhea County put one final TD on the scoreboard with just over two minutes left when he broke free from 23 yards out. Rickert’s sixth extra point ended the scoring for the game.
In addition to Wells’ sparkling performance, there were other exceptional efforts for the Mustangs.
Quarterback Logan Hindman returned to action (after being benched by a foot injury) in relief of sophomore Garrett Wallace. It was evident Hindman’s passing was rusty, but he is expected to add some experience to the Mustangs’ offense during the remainder of the season.
Marcus Hunter, Austin Melton, Hayes Hooper and several linemen had big plays for the Walker Valley defense. Hunter caused a fumble when Rhea County had a goal-to-go situation inside Walker Valley’s 5 yard line, but the Eagles recovered the football and still got the six points.
The Mustangs’ defensive line played solid, holding Rhea County to 153 yards with only two plays over 20 yards. The difference in the game was the pinpoint passing of Tallent and Walker Valley’s inability to tackle the Rhea County receivers.
The Mustangs will try to level their record at 2-2 this Friday, traveling to McMinn Central to face the winless Chargers.