The Vikings and Bearcats were locked in a tie with 12 minutes left on the clock to decide a winner.
It was 12 minutes Walker would like to forget.
Cullman scored four times in the fourth quarter to turn a classic grudge match into a 42-14 rout at Oliver Woodard Stadium. The Bearcats used a pair of Walker turnovers and an oppressive ground attack to finally pull away from the Vikings. The two-man offensive show of quarterback Zack Crocker and running back Garrett Grider carried the Cullman offense. The duo combined for more than 200 yards on the ground. Crocker added another 135 yards passing.
The loss ruined an outstanding game by Walker’s Quadrekas Key, who had both of the Vikings’ touchdowns. The junior receiver/defensive back caught six passes for 118 yards and a score and also had a pair of interceptions, returning one 64 yards for a touchdown.
The teams slugged it out for three quarters. The game was tied 7-7 after each team scored a defensive touchdown in the first quarter. Cullman grabbed a 14-7 lead in the second quarter before Walker put together a 96-yard drive to tie the score late in the third quarter.
From there, it was all Cullman.
The Bearcats set the tone in the final quarter with a 24-yard touchdown strike from Crocker to Mason Jones. On the next play from scrimmage, Cullman’s Josh Chambers stepped in front of a Bryant Atkins pass for an interception. Crocker then hit Wesley Hendrix for a 33-yard gain to put Cullman deep in Walker territory. Three plays later, Crocker and Troy Forrest connected on a 15-yard score to put Cullman up 28-14 with 8:53 left.
As the Vikings’ defense wore down, Cullman’s pounding rushing attack added another score with Grider going up the gut for a 15-yard score at the 4:05 mark. Walker’s next possession resulted in a fumble that Cullman’s Joseph Gable took 42 yards for a touchdown for the final tally of the night.
Cullman struck first in the opening quarter with Josh Reed recovering a Blake Wilkes fumble in the end zone. Christopher Gray’s extra point gave Cullman a 7-0 lead with 5:06 left in the quarter. On the Bearcats’ next possession, Key picked off a Crocker pass and raced 64 yards for a touchdown. Joseph Pedraza’s kick evened the score at 7-7. Cullman struck back on its first possession of the second quarter and the Bearcats took a 14-7 lead into the half.
The first half was plagued with penalties. A total of 11 flags were thrown, including seven in the first quarter alone.
Walker’s most impressive drive of the night tied the game in the third quarter.
Despite getting called for more than 50 yards on the possession, Walker drove 94 yards for the tying score. Key came through time after time on the drive, outmaneuvering Cullman defenders for a 50-yard catch and going between two Cullman defenders and racing to the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14.
For the Vikings, Michael Bridges led the rushing attack with 64 yards on 11 carries. Wilkes finished 12-for-17 for 144 yards and a touchdown in his first varsity start. He also had two fumbles. Defensively, Blake Moore had 15 tackles and Austin Mansell added 12.
Walker opens region play next week with a home game against Moody (1-0). The contest will kickoff at 7 p.m. from Walker’s Ki-Ro Gambrell Stadium.