It was just enough as the Vikings built a lead and held off the Eagles for a 22-12 win in their Class 5A, Region 6 showdown.
The win puts Walker (5-2, 5-0) alone atop the region standings heading into next week’s matchup with Mortimer Jordan.
“This was a big win for us, but we still have a long way to go,” Walker coach John Holladay said. “Our assignments and effort have got to be better. We still haven’t given our best effort.”
Walker scored a pair of touchdowns and forced two turnovers in the second quarter as the Vikings built a 14-0 halftime lead. The team added another score in the third quarter for a 22-0 advantage.
From there, nothing went Walker’s way.
Center Point kept the game close thanks to two Walker fumbles and an assortment of drive-killing penalties in the fourth-quarter.
“I thought we were trying to give the ball game away there for a little while. We just gave up too many third-down conversions. We kept our defense on the field,” Holladay said.
Walker’s second quarter effort was enough to put the Vikings in control of the game.
After forcing a Center Point punt to open the quarter, Walker quick-strike offense went to work with Tyler Phillips breaking through the line and rumbling down the sideline for a 64-yard score. Joseph Pedraza’s kick made the score 7-0 with 7:57 left in the half.
Walker’s defense set up the next score when K.J. Farris took the ball from Center Point quarterback Keilan Knight, giving the Vikings possession at the Eagles’ 32-yard line. On the second play of the drive, quarterback Bryant Atkins hit Sa'Darius Key for a 38-yard pick up inside the Center Point 10-yard line. Two plays later, Michael Bridges scored from one yard out for a 14-0 lead with 4:49 left in the half.
Center Point (3-4, 3-2) followed with a drive inside the Walker 30-yard line, but Jameson Lane ended the threat with an interception in the end zone to close the opening half.
“In the second quarter, we were able to stop them and score points...that’s what you want to do. Besides that, we didn’t play well. We made a lot of mistakes,” Holladay said.
Walker added to its lead in the third quarter.
Yet again, the defense set up the touchdown.
Walker’s Jaiquan Crook stripped the ball from a Center Point player and Austin Mansell recovered the ball at the Eagles’ 20-yard line.
Three plays later, Phillips scored from one yard out. Joseph Bell added the two-point conversion for a 22-0 lead.
Center Point responded with its first score of the game. The touchdown came on a 4th-and-17 play when Knight hit Terrance Bunch for a 17-yard strike in the end zone to make the score 22-6 with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter.
The Eagles made things a little more interesting in the fourth when they got a 5-yard touchdown run from Knight to make the score 22-12 with 10:23 left in the game.
Walker had a chance to put the game away on its first drive of the fourth quarter. The Vikings got as close as the Center Point 9-yard line before a fumble ended the threat. Walker also fumbled on its next drive.
The Vikings’ defense held both times and Crook forced his second fumble of the game to end Center Point’s chances.
For Walker, Phillips led the way, gaining 121 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Bridges added 30 yards and a score on 13 carries. Atkins, making his first varsity start at quarterback for the injured Blake Wilkes, completed 6 of 10 passes for 92 yards. Phillips caught two passes for 39 yards while Key had two catches for 36 yards.
Center Point, which dropped its third straight game, had trouble running the ball against the Vikings, picking up just 56 yards on 26 carries, but the Eagles moved the ball through the air, completing 18 of 33 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown.
Next up for the Vikings are the Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils next week at Walker’s Ki-Ro Gambrell Field. Mortimer Jordan (5-2, 4-1) knocked off Hayden 42-32 on Friday to keep its region title hopes alive.
Walker is in search of its first region title since the 1999 season. The Vikings have won the last five meetings against Mortimer Jordan.
“Next week is a huge football game. We’ve got a good football team coming in,” Holladay added. “We better have a good week of pratice and good week of preparation.”