In a reversal of Friday night’s fortunes, the Mustangs JV was able to at least even the season series with their foes from Cleveland with the win.
From the onset it appeared that the Blue Raiders were going to follow the cue of their varsity counterparts as Cleveland, led by quarterback Michael May, took to the air and marched the ball into Mustang territory.
Cleveland turned the ball over however on a costly fourth-down conversion attempt which saw Raiders tailback Jack Bird stopped behind the line by the Mustangs’ Daniel Busby.
The Mustangs returned the favor less than two minutes later at the six-minute mark after an errant Josh Jones pass was picked off by the Blue Raiders secondary.
The two rival teams traded punts the remainder of the quarter, making the game scoreless heading into the second.
The second quarter saw the Mustangs work their running game effectively and use their passing game sparingly.
“They hit us with a trap running play. Their running backs would hit the hole hard, getting our defensive line off balance. We couldn’t seem to get any pressure. Their offensive line created big holes for their runners,” Cleveland assistant coach David McMahan said.
Walker Valley etched its first points early in the quarter after Mustangs running back Dakota Hughes found his way through Cleveland’s defense and into the end zone for a 2-yard score.
As the Mustangs offense rolled, the Blue Raiders seemed to stall. Cleveland could not get its running game going against a stout Walker Valley front seven, causing a number of stalled drives and punts.
“They blitzed us a lot and we just weren’t ready for it. We also couldn't get our running going and our offensive line missed a lot of their blocking assignments,” McMahan said.
Walker Valley pounded the ball in yet again at the two-minute mark, making the score 14-0.
Cleveland responded a minute later when the Blue Raiders, led by QB J’Shawn Hill, promptly marched the ball 75 yards down the field and into the end zone after a 1-yard QB sneak by Hill.
Cleveland saw the extra point get blocked, making the score 14-6 in Walker Valley’s favor heading into the second half.
The third quarter started out with a bang as “The Corral” at Walker Valley erupted in cheers after a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Mustangs’ Avery Jones, making the score 21-6.
Jones’ score would be the sole source of cheers in the third quarter for either team, as both again traded punts the remainder of the quarter.
“We were able to hold them to a couple of three-and-outs and didn’t let them convert on short-yardage opportunities, but at the same time we did not capitalize and had a couple missed chances,” McMahan said.
The Mustangs’ stellar running and offensive line play were the undoing for the Blue Raiders in the fourth quarter.
Walker Valley pounded the ball on the ground on its way to three more rushing touchdowns in the quarter for a total of five touchdowns on the ground.
The Blue Raiders’ lone bright spot in the quarter was the play of Hill, who tried to muster a Cleveland comeback with two touchdown passes only to come up short in the end.
The final score read 39-20 in Walker Valley’s favor.
“J’Shawn Hill played an amazing game, no matter what the final score says. He was poised in the pocket and made important throws, and when the throws weren’t there he improvised with his feet and gave us numerous scoring chances,” McMahan said.
The Mustangs ended their season on a positive note, while the Blue Raiders will try and do the same Monday night when they host Ooltewah.