Walker’s offense overcame several miscues for a 28-13 victory over Moody in the Class 5A, Region 6 opener at Ki-Ro/Gambrell Field Friday night.
Tyler Phillips led the Vikings’ attack on the ground, rushing for 168 yards and a touchdown while Blake Wilkes did his job through the air throwing for 132 yards and a score as the Vikings bounced back from last week’s loss to Cullman in the season opener.
Walker’s big offensive output overcame four fumbles that thwarted three scoring drives. The Vikings’ defense made up for the miscues, with three interceptions.
“This was a big win. It was an ugly win. We had to have it heading into next week,” Walker coach John Holladay said. “We have to quit fumbling the ball. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Friday’s game appeared to be headed for a shootout in the opening quarter.
Walker (1-1 overall, 1-0 in region play) needed just five plays to get into the end zone. Phillips did the honors, breaking through the middle of the line and racing 41 yards for the score at the 9:13 mark of the first quarter. Joseph Pedraza’s extra point put Walker up 7-0.
Moody also scored on its first possession, going 80 yards in just five plays. Quarterback Micheal Barron hit Terrell Martin on a 22-yard touchdown pass to notch the game at 7-7 with 6:40 left in the quarter.
Walker wasted no time regaining the lead, putting together an 80-yard drive of its own. Phillips had a 35-yard run and a 16-yard burst to set up Michael Bridges’ 5-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead.
Walker’s Jeb Cowen picked off a pass in the end zone to set up the Vikings’ next drive.
After gaining just three yards on its first two plays of the possession, Wilkes hit Kevin Clay for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Clay did most of the work, catching the ball at the 40 yard line and weaving his way into the end zone as Walker took a 21-7 advantage with 9:24 left in the first half.
Moody’s Jake Crain added the Blue Devils’ last touchdown, scoring on a 10-yard run with 4:30 left in the half to cut Walker’s lead to 21-13.
Walker’s defense made a key stand after a fumble in the third quarter.
Linebacker Austin Mansell made his presence known on the drive. He dropped the running back for a three-yard loss on first down and took down a receiver for a four-yard loss on second down. Moody attempted a field goal, but botched the snap. Walker’s John Michael Reed took down the runner to end the drive.
Walker scored the only touchdown in the second half. Phillips set up the score with a 41-yard run. Bridges followed with a six-yard touchdown run two plays later for a 28-13 lead. Bridges finished the game with 68 yards and two scores on 16 carries, Kevin Clay had 28 yards on four carries and had a 77-yard touchdown reception. Wilkes finished 3-for-4 for 132 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
On defense, Blake Moore had 17 tackles and Mansell added 11. Jeb Cowen had two interceptions and Jamison Lane picked off another.
“We didn’t play well on defense as a whole. We bent, bent, bent, but we didn’t break,” added Holladay.
For Moody, which fell to 1-1, 0-1, Devonta Vandergrift rushed for 71 yards and 14 carries while Crain added 49 yards on 10 attempts. The Blue Devils rushed for 214 yards in the game and threw for another 79 yards.
Walker continues region play with a trip to Pinson Valley next week before hosting three straight games.
Moody hosts Hayden next week.