Walker drops heartbreaker to Pell City
by W. Brian Hale
Photo by Jennifer Smith
PELL CITY — Walker’s first contest of the 2014 season ended in disappointing fashion on Friday night, with the host Pell City Panthers grabbing a 17-14 victory on a last-minute field goal at Pell City.
The Vikings, who suffered their first loss under new head coach Heath Brunner, were plagued on offense by penalties, heat cramps and poor execution — resulting in a total offensive production of 141 yards on the night. Jackson Holladay led the team with 119 total yards — completing 11 of 15 passes for 88 yards and rushing for 31 yards on four carries with one touchdown.
Isiah Cox was Holladay’s leading target with four catches for 48 yards.
Alex Medina turned in a superb night for the Walker defense, recording 12 tackles, including three tackles for a loss, and a sack. Sawyer Smith added four tackles.
The first half was a scoreless battle — with the Vikings’ offense producing just 46 yards while Walker’s defense made key plays to keep the Panthers out of the end zone.
Although the scoring deadlock continued through the third quarter, Walker’s offense began to move the ball more successfully — with the Vikings moving within striking distance of the Pell City end zone on the final set of plays.
An 11-yard carry by Marlon Oliver on the initial play of the fourth quarter put the Vikings in the red zone. On the following play, Holladay called his own number and ran the ball 17 yards for the score. After a successful extra point kick by Brayden Banks, Walker put the first points of the night on the scoreboard, 7-0.
The celebration, however, would be short-lived.
On the ensuing kick-off, Pell City returned the ball 70 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers successfully converted a two-point play to take the lead, 8-7.
The Vikings answered with their best offensive drive of the evening, going 73 yards on 10 plays. Oliver scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to allow Walker to reclaim the lead, 14-8, after Banks’ extra point kick.
Despite recovering the ball on the six-yard line after a fumble on the kick-off, Walker was unable to find the end zone — the drive ending when a Banks field goal was blocked.
Pell City tied the game on the next series with a five-play, 83-yard drive. The extra point attempt was blocked by Smith, leaving the contest even at 14-14.
After shutting down Walker’s offense on the ensuing series, the Panthers constructed a five-play, 31-yard drive that consumed all but four seconds on the clock, concluding the game-winning series with a 19-yard field goal for the 17-14 win.
Walker travels to John Carroll to open Class 6A, Region 5 play next Friday in Birmingham.
Read more: Daily Mountain Eagle – Walker drops heartbreaker to Pell Cit