While the Vikings fought until the final whistle, the big plays belonged to the Golden Gophers in their 28-14 win over Walker.
Although the Vikings held the Golden Gophers’ passing attack to 69 yards on the night, it would be Hueytown’s ground game — which rolled up 269 yards — and four costly turnovers that kept Walker from winning their fifth-straight game and taking additional momentum into postseason play.
“We played hard enough tonight — but just not well enough,” Walker coach John Holladay said. “There were three plays in the first half, as well as three plays in the second half, that changed the ball game — if those went our way through better execution or better play on defense, we could have won. The effort was definitely there, we just came up short in the instances that it meant the most.”
Bryant Atkins led the Vikings offensively, connecting on 13 of 22 passes for 144 yards, but had three interceptions on the night. His top target was Quadrekas Key with five receptions for 73 yards. Tyler Phillips scored both of Walker’s touchdowns and rushed for 59 yards on 10 carries.
Austin Mansell led the Walker defense with 10 tackles, while Jaiquan Crook recorded 8 stops for the contest.
Both defenses put up a strong performance to begin the game, leading to a scoreless tie at the conclusion of the first quarter.
Hueytown would break the scoring gridlock on its first possession of the second quarter on a 7-play, 60-yard drive, with Danarrius Miller taking the ball in from 3 yards out to take a 7-0 lead after the successful extra point kick.
Walker answered with a 70-yard, 9-play drive of its own on the ensuing series, with Phillips scoring his first touchdown of the night on a 14-yard run, to tie the game at 7-7 after Joseph Pedraza’s good extra point kick.
The tie only lasted for one play, as the Miller returned the kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, helping the Golden Gophers retake the lead at 14-7.
Hueytown added an additional score in the final seconds of the quarter, with a 29-yard strike from Robert Johnson to David Evans to extend the lead to 21-7 at halftime.
The third quarter would see an exchange of turnovers, with both squads losing possession twice.
Walker gained the advantage on the final turnover, with John Michael Reed grabbing a Johnson interception that would lead to a 7-play, 37-yard drive, with Phillips finding the end zone from 12 yards out.
The Vikings cut the lead to 21-14 after Pedraza’s point-after kick.
The Golden Gophers would add a final score to begin the fourth quarter on a 6-play, 55-yard drive, as Miller scored his second touchdown of the night on a 45-yard run, helping secure Hueytown’s 28-14 victory.
Walker (8-2, 7-0) will host the Central Tuscaloosa Falcons (5-4, 4-3) in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs next Friday night at Ki-Ro Gambrell Stadium.