Walker’s Jackson Holladay (6) escapes Minor defender La’Torius Bonner (41) during their game at Ki-Ro Gambrell Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Tigers 15-6 in their home opener. Photo by Jeff Johnsey
Minor’s offense is filled with playmakers. The Tigers had rolled up points through their first two games.
Then Minor played Walker — and the offense came to a screeching halt.
The Vikings got an early lead and turned the game over the defense in a 15-6 win over Minor in Friday’s home opener at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field.
Walker has now won 20 straight region games dating back to the 2011 season.
Walker’s Alex Medina set the tone on Minor’s first offensive play of the game, dropping quarterback Haywood Spencer for a 12-yard loss. Spencer rushed four times in the first quarter and was dropped for a loss on three of his carries.
“Our defense played a great game,” Walker coach Heath Brunner said. “We had a great game plan. The kids stayed true to the gameplan and did a great job containing their offense and containing (Spencer).”
Walker (2-1, 2-0) got more than enough from its offense in the opening half, getting a field goal midway through the first quarter and its only offensive touchdown following a six-minute drive in the second quarter.
The Vikings led 9-0 at the half and put the game out of reach behind an Isiah Cox interception return for a score in the third quarter.
“Our defense bent, but it didn’t break. We made them snap it again and again. That was what we talked about all week. We didn’t want to give up the big play,” Brunner added.
Spencer, who scored four touchdowns and totaled 249 yards in a win over Hueytown last week was held in check by the Vikings, who limited the speedster to 81 yards on the ground and 76 yards through the air. More importantly, Walker kept Spencer out of the end zone.
The lone big play of the game came from Cox, who was coming off a four-touchdown performance in a rout of John Carroll last week.
With Minor putting together its best drive of the night late in the third quarter, Cox stepped in front of a Dre’Quan Pritchett pass and returned it 60 yards down the sideline to put Walker ahead 15-0 with four seconds left in the quarter.
“Big-time players make big plays at the right times in the game. He stepped in there and did a great job for us,” Brunner said.
When Walker went up by 15 points, Brunner turned to running back Marlon Oliver, who carried the ball 10 times in the fourth quarter alone.
“I got a little conservative with the play calling when we went up two scores,” Brunner added. “We were trying to keep our defense off the field. They were playing so good that you don’t want to give (Minor’s) offense any momentum.”
Minor (2-2, 1-1) used a two quarterback system with Spencer and Pritchett each getting a chance to lead the offense. Neither was able to mount a threat until a fourth quarter touchdown.
Brayden Banks gave Walker a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, knocking in an 18-yard field goal at the 5:05 mark.
The Vikings went 63 yards in 15 plays on their next possession. Oliver closed out the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run for the 9-0 lead with 6:18 left in the half.a
Minor had four first-half possessions. Two ended with punts, Walker’s defense stopped the Tigers in the red zone once and the half ended the final drive.
The Tigers opened the second half with a drive to the Walker 10-yard line. After three consecutive incomplete passes, Minor missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with ball just reaching the goal line. Late in the third quarter, Minor put together a drive starting from its own 3-yard line. The Tigers got as far as the Walker 45-yard line before Cox took back the interception to push the Vikings’ lead to 15-0.
Walker’s Lar’Quarius Harris picked off a Spencer pass midway through the fourth quarter to end another Minor threat.
Minor finally got on the board with 2:39 left in the game when Pritchett connected with Delonte Evans on an 11-yard touchdown. Rather than go for the 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to seven points, the Tigers attempted the extra point with the kick sailing wide left to leave Minor down two scores.
Walker ran the remaining time off the clock with Oliver carrying the ball six times. The Vikings had a late touchdown called back on a clipping penalty.
For the Vikings, Oliver rushed 30 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jackson Holladay completed 6 of 12 passes for 50 yards. Walker travels to Pelham for a key Class 6A, Region 5 matchup next week.