The Mustangs from Walker Valley not only had to dig deep to overcome a three-touchdown deficit but also needed some last-minute heroics to seal the deal.
For the second straight week coach Glen Ryan’s young Stallions made a strong run down the back stretch to pull out the victory, rallying to get past Sequoyah 24-21 in their home opener at “The Corral.”
Opening 2-0 for the second consecutive season, the Mustangs will face their toughest test of the young campaign Friday when fourth-ranked (5A) East Hamilton (2-0) comes blowing into the north end of Bradley County.
After the Hurricanes nipped Signal Mountain, ranked fourth in the state Class 4A poll, 14-12 in its opener, coach Ted Gatewood’s squad downed 10th-ranked (6A) Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett 33-21 Friday evening.
Sequoyah started Friday’s shootout at “The Corral” from its own 31 yard line and put together a 12-play drive that included four straight first downs.
Facing fourth down from the Mustang 1, Chiefs’ running back JJ Harmon was stuffed at the line forcing a turnover on downs.
After the Mustangs took a quick three-and-out on their first possession, Sequoyah was right back at it.
After picking up two quick first downs, quarterback Brett King found wide receiver Garrett Dalton for a 27-yard scoring strike. Pulling double duty at QB and kicker, King missed the extra point leaving the score 6-0 with 5:05 left in the first frame.
Following a pair of very short drives by both teams, Walker Valley took over the ball on their own 14 with 56 seconds left in the opening quarter.
For the first time, it looked like the Mustangs were going to move the ball down field when running back Chandler Hunt rolled off a 28-yard run, followed by a nine-yard dash from Colton Morrow.
The Mustangs ended the first quarter at midfield, but the break in action must have thwarted the drive as they eventually would have to punt the ball away.
The Chiefs would take full advantage of the Mustangs’ missed opportunity by going 69 yards on just two plays to take a 12-0 lead after the second TD pass of the night from King to Dalton, this one tallying up 67 yards after shaking a couple of Walker Valley defenders. Running back Alex Stakely converted the two-point conversion and gave Sequoyah a 14-0 lead with 9:19 left in the half.
Coming off stalled drives from both teams, Walker Valley took over the ball on its own 8 yard line with 1:57 left in the half. After gaining two first downs, the first real mistake of the night happened as Sequoyah’s Harmon picked off an interception and returned it to the Mustang 9. On the very next play Drew Carson bulldozed across for the score. With an extra point by King, the Chiefs took a commanding 21-0 lead.
After returning the ensuing kickoff to its own 42, Walker Valley QB Cory Cook took it from there. Coach Ryan showed a ton of faith in his signal caller as Cook completed 3-of-4 passes for 36 yards and ran for another 10. The junior signal caller then punched it in from a yard out to get the Mustangs back in to the game. Following the extra point by Kevin Sabany, Walker Valley trailed 21-7 at the half.
After the intermission, the Mustangs came out of the locker room hungry and fired up and it showed from the opening drive, which included a three-yard center sneak by Jonathan Davis that was just enough to move the chains. Five minutes, 14 plays and 64 yards later, Sabany drilled a 28-yard field goal to trim the difference to 21-10.
Coach Ryan had to wonder if his defense was going to respond in the second half after giving up three scores and digging a big hole in the opening 24 minutes. He got the answer he was looking for when on Sequoyah’s first play the Chief signal caller got drilled by Mustang lineman Hunter Newport jarring the ball free and Morrow pounced on it, giving Walker Valley possession with just half the field to work with.
The Mustangs kept the ball on the ground and eventually got the score they were looking for. Facing a fourth down on the Chiefs 1 yard line, WV gave the ball to Holt Spencer, who appeared to be stopped by a Sequoyah defender short of the goal line, but a gritty second effort by the Mustang running back brought the game to within a score as Sabany added the extra point to make it 21-17 with 3:24 left in the third frame.
Fatigue was definitely in the air when the fourth quarter started. After the teams swapped turnovers, the Mustangs took over from the Sequoyah 46 and were looking to pulling ahead for the first time in the game. On fourth down from the Chiefs’ 30, Cook found wide receiver Cooper Melton for an acrobatic circus catch over a Sequoyah defender to hand the hosts their first lead of the night. Sabany tacked on the extra point to give Walker Valley a 24-21 lead with 5:19 left.
Not willing to give up, Sequoyah made a final effort to pull out the victory, but on third down from the Mustang 38 Bryce Nunnelly sealed Walker Valley’s second victory of the young season with an interception at the 5 yard line. With no time outs left and just 54 seconds on the clock, all that was left was the celebrating.
After the game, coach Ryan was obviously proud of his Mustang defense in the second half and the overall effort from everyone. “If these boys will start playing the first half like the second half, we’ll be more than alright. We just have to continue to fight week in and week out, but I’m really proud of them”.
When asked about whether he thought Sequoyah just simply tired out, coach Ryan stated, “We put our guys through a lot this summer and it showed in the second half. There is no quit in these guys and I love it”.
For the game Cook completed seven passes for 88 yards to go with a touchdown and an interception.
On the ground, the Mustangs used eight different runners to compile 224 yards, led by Hunt’s 10 carries for 86 yards and Dillard’s six for 54.
The two scores on the ground came from Spencer, who ran eight times for 21 yards, and Cook, who carried the ball seven times for just six yards, but one broke the plain of the goal line.
The air attack was led by Melton with a trio of catches for 53 yards and the eventual game-winning score, while Dillard pulled in a pair of receptions for 22 yards.
Sabany accounted for six Mustang points with a perfect 3-for-3 on PATs, plus splitting the uprights on the 28-yard field goal attempt.
Walker Valley converted 3-of-3 fourth-down plays, while the Mustang defense stopped the Chiefs on all three of their similar attempts.
Defensively, Jake Johnson and Dillard led the home team with eight hits apiece, while Morrow, Reed Jacobs and Hunter Newport were in on a half dozen tackles. Morrow also had a pair of pass deflections to go with his fumble recovery. Jacobs had a pair of tackles for loss, while Newport caught one Chief behind the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble.
Josh Jones was in on five tackles in the victory, while Ryan Baker and Nunnelly had four hits apiece, plus the latter made the key interception in the game’s final minute. Melton returned his two timely interceptions for a total of 50 yards.
High School Football
Team District Overall
Walker Valley 0-0 2-0
East Hamilton 0-0 2-0
Soddy-Daisy 0-0 2-0
Bradley Central 0-0 1-1
Cleveland 0-0 1-1
McMinn County 0-0 1-1
Ooltewah 0-0 1-1
Thursday, Aug. 29
Soddy-Daisy 21, Red Bank 7
Friday, Aug. 30
Bradley Central 39, Riverdale 35
Cleveland 36, Cookeville 17
Walker Valley 24, Sequoyah 21
East Hamilton 33, Dobyns-Bennett 21
McCallie 41, McMinn County 6
Siegel 58, Ooltewah 47
Friday, Sept. 6
Cleveland at McMinn County, 7:30
East Hamilton at Walker Valley, 7:30
Ooltewah at Soddy-Daisy, 7:30
Bradley Central has a bye
Team District Overall
Polk County 0-0 2-0
Sequoyah 0-0 1-1
Loudon 0-0 0-2
McMinn Central 0-0 1-1
Sweetwater 0-0 1-1
Friday, Aug. 30
Polk County 35, Chattanooga Central 15
Lenoir City 26, Loudon 0
McMinn Central 18, Boyd Buchanan 15
Sweetwater 52, Meigs County 22
Walker Valley 24, Sequoyah 21
Friday, Sept. 6
Sequoyah at McMinn Central, 7:30
Sweetwater at Loudon, 7:30
Polk County has a bye
Sequoyah 6 15 0 0 — 21
Walker Valley 0 7 10 7 — 24
Seq — 26 yd pass to Garrett Dalton, 5:05
Seq — 67 yd pass to Dalton, (2 pt conversion) 9:19
Seq — Drew Carson 10 yd run, (kick) 1:17
WV — Cory Cook 1 yd run (Kevin Sabany kick)
WV — Sabany 28 yd FG, 6:49
WV — Holt Spencer 1 yd run (Sabany kick), 3:24
WV — 31 yd pass to Cooper Melton (Sabany kick), 5:19
Team stats WV SQ
First downs 12 8
Rushes-yards 42-224 26-186
Passing yards 88 195
Total yards 312 381
Comp-Att-Int 21-7-1 21-9-3
Punts -Ave. 6-28.0 3-38.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties 8-64 12-63
Rushing: Drew Carson 14-103 TD, Brett King 9-57, JJ Harmon 3-26 (S); Chandler Hunt 10-86, Tanner Dillard 6-54, Alex King 6-54, Colton Morow 4-22, Holt Spencer 8-21 TD, Cory Cook 7-6 TD, Elijah Haynie 1-4, Josh Davis 1-3 (WV).
Passing: King 9-21-3 2 TDs (S); Cook 7-21-1 TD (WV).
Receiving: Garrett Dalton 3-98 2 TDs, Alex Stakely 2-67, Evan Torbett 1-9, KC Deherrera 1-9, Drew Carson 1-7, Matt Gletty 1-5 (S). Melton 3-55 TD, Dillard 2-20, Spencer 1-10, Ben Clark 1-7 (WV).
Records: Walker Valley 2-0; Sequoyah 1-1.