No. 1 Bears maul ninth-ranked Mustangs
By RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Correspondent
The Bradley Central Bears showed whey they are the best Class 6A football team in the state Friday night as they left no doubt about their No. 1-ranking with a 35-0 dismantling of previously unbeaten Walker Valley in the “County Conflict at the Corral.”
The Mustangs (3-1) — ranked No. 9 in 5A — were stymied all night on the ground by the stingy “Black Hole Defense.” The Bears (4-0) held the Mustangs to just 90 yards on the ground and just 87 through the air.
On the other end of the spectrum, Bradley quarterback Kaleb Martin picked through the Walker Valley defense for 144 yards passing and helped the Bears to 178 on the ground with junior J'Alan Terry returning from an injury he suffered early in the season opener, to go off for 132 yards on 16 carries.
"Boo" Carter, a University of Tennessee commit, broke the school record with a 94-yard punt return for a TD to get the mauling started with 7:18 left in the opening quarter. The previous mark of 85 yards by Jim Clark in 1965 had stood for 58 years.
“That’s good coaching isn’t it,” joked veteran “Papa Bear” Damon Floyd, who notched win 115 in the chase of legendary Jimmie Lovell's program-best 124.
“Boo is a special player every time he gets the ball in his hands. They were even doubling him every play tonight and he still scores, not only on the punt return, but the touchdown pass," Floyd said.
“He’s just a heck of a player and we’re fortunate to have him. But, it’s a total team win and I’m happy for all of them.”
Carter also caught a 35-yard pass from Miami-Ohio commit Martin for a score in the second quarter that put Bradley out front 14-0 at halftime.
“We cost ourselves on special teams. We cost any chance energy-wise. I didn’t love our energy on the sideline,” lamented Mustang head coach Drew Akins. “They’re (Bradley’s) game play is what it is. That’s a great football team. It’s a hard-nosed football team. They have athletes everywhere.
“They did a really good job of stopping the run (allowing the Herd just 87 yards). We were trying to give ourselves a chance burn some clock. We had some success there at times, but couldn’t sustain any success.”
The Bears forced five Walker Valley punts in the first half as the Mustangs missed a chance to put points on the board with a missed field goal late in the first quarter while trailing 7-0.
Bradley wasted no time running the score to 21-0 on the opening kick of the second half as senior Jarrius Rogers took the Walker Valley pooch kick and returned it 70 yards to paydirt.
“We killed ourselves with the special teams. Special teams at the start of the game and special teams at the start of the second half,” said Akins. “We’ve got to learn from it.”
After holding the Mustangs on a fourth-and-9 the Bears turned to Terry who carried the ball a half dozen times to the Walker Valley 12, where Martin finished the drive to put Bradley out front 28-0 midway through the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Martin found Rogers for 25 yards for the final score of the night before senior Skyler Pirtle split the uprights for the fifth time on the evening.
“It (the game) was really kind of ugly I felt,” said Coach Floyd of his team's three turnovers, as the team celebrated the victory. “We left a lot of points out there. We were sluggish in the first half turning the ball over twice. The defense obviously bowed their backs, but we were sluggish in the first half on offense.”
Leaving points on the board had not hurt the Mustangs in their previous three wins, until they ran up against the “Black Hole Defense,” never making it inside the Red Zone. Walker Valley failed to score inside the 20-yard line against Cleveland and missed out on points inside the 10 against Polk County and Notre Dame.
“All year we’ve done it, but we’ve been the better football team. We’re leaving a lot of points on the field,” Akins admitted. “Tonight, when you play a team that’s better than you and you leave points on the field it’s going to get away really quick.
“If we get to our side of the field and score a field goal at least you feel you can get some momentum out of that.”
Floyd said the Bears played better in the second half, but still have work to do.
“The second half we took a little bit more of what they were giving us,” he said. “The players made plays and it’s hard to complain over a 35-0 victory. But, we’ve got to get better.”
Bradley has a bye next week and will return to action at Bear Stadium Sept. 15 in a non-region matchup against Heritage (Georgia).
The Mustangs head into their Region 4-5A schedule Friday with a road game at Ooltewah (1-3).
“We knew it was going to be a great challenge. We have been super competitive in this game (the last two years), tonight we weren’t. I’m not super disappointed in that. They are the No. 1 team in 6A. They are an incredibly talented football team. What I was disappointed in was, when we went to the sidelines and we were not holding true to who we are. That’s what I was frustrated with,” Akins stated.
“Every goal, everything we want to accomplish is in front of us. Our message at the end was, ‘Go win a region championship.’ It’s right here in front of us, but we’ve got to learn from tonight. Tonight means nothing when it comes to the playoffs. Let’s get into region play, let’s fight in region play. Those are the games that are going to determine region payoffs."
Along with Terry's 132-yard tally, Carter posted 147 all-purpose yards, while Rogers garnered 101, both cashing in the long kick returns and a scoring aerial as well.
Martin completed 7-of-14 throws for a 144 yards and two TDS, plus carried the ball four times for another 16, scoring once himself.
Highly-recruited Tito Williams pulled in trio of passes for 57 yards, plus was in on seven tackles.
Freshman Zane McIntosh led the "Black Hole Defense" with 11 total takedowns, including two behind the line of scrimmage and a QB sack.
Braxton Arthur made eight total tackles, while senior Rodney Williams was in on seven, with a pair of TFL and a sack.
With Terry back, senior LB Jackson Wilson was able to concentrate on defense, with three solo takedowns, a trio of assists, a pair of TFL and a sack.
Leading the Herd offense was junior Malachi Martin who gained 62 yards on 21 carries, while classmate Zeke Garrison toted the rock eight times for 32 yards.
Senior QB Evan Schwarzl completed 7-of-15 pass for 87 yards, with junior Hudson Makuch pulling two for 55. Walker Valley was held to just 177 yards of total offense, while the Bears put 322, plus 170 on kick returns.
The Mustang defense was topped by senior Braxton Smith with seven solos tackles, an assists, a TFL, plus he broke up a pass.
Junior Mason Alexander not only made a half dozen solo tackles, but picked off a pass and returned it 20 yards. Senior Leundre Hinton had four solo takedowns, plus was in on two more tackles.
Friday, Sept. 8
at "The MAC"
Bradley Central 7 7 14 7 — 35
Walker Valley 0 0 0 0 — 0
BC — Boo Carter 94-yard punt return (Skylar Pirkle kick), 7:18
BC — Carter 35-yd pass from Kaleb Martin (Pirtle kick), 11:55
BC — Jarrius Rogers Wilson 70 kickoff return (Pirtle kick), 11:50
BC — Martin 12-yd run (Pirtle kick), 6:32
BC — Rogers 25-yd pass from Martin (Pirtle kick), 11:52
First downs 16 11
Rushes-Yards 26-178 39-90
Passing 144 87
Total yards 322 177
Comp-Att-Int 8-14-2 7-15-0
Punts-Avg 1-44 6-40.1
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-46 3-35
Rushing: J'Alan Terry 16-132, Kaleb Martin 4-16 TD, Simon Mullis 2-14, Boo Carter 2-12, Jackson Wilson 1-4 (BC); Malachi Martin 21-62, Zeke Garrison 8-32, Noah Jones 1-0, Evan Schwarzl 9- -4 (WV).
Passing: Kaleb Martin 8-14-2 144 2 TDs (BC); Evan Schwarzl 7-15-0, 87 (WV).
Receiving: Tito Williams 3-57, Boo Carter 2-41 TD, Jarrius Rogers 1-25 TD, Max Wilson 1-21, J'Alan Terry 1-0 (BC); Hudson Makuch 2-55, Roman Eulo 3-18, Tate Roundtree 1-13, Zeke Garrison 1-1 (WV).
Defense: Zane McIntosh 1 solo, 10 asts, 2 TFL, 1 sack; Braxton Arthur 2 solos, 6 asts.; Tito Williams 3 solos, 4 asts.; Rodney Williams 1 solo, 6 asts., 2 TFL, 1 sack; Jackson Wilson 3 solos, 3 asts, 2 TFL, 1 sack; Ben Sollins 1 solo, 5 asts., 1 TFL, 1 sack; Landon Scott 2 solos, 3 asts.; Wiley Suskawicz 1 solo, 4 asts., 2 TFL, 2 sacks; AJ Williams 5 asts, 1 sack; Boo Carter 4 solos; Marcus Goree Jr. 3 solos (BC): Braxton Smith 7 solos, 1 ast., 1 TFL, 1 PBU; Mason Alexander 6 solos, INT w/20-yd. return; Leundre Hinton 4 solos, 2 ast.; Tyran Forte 2 solos, 3 ast., 1 TFL; Jacob Hollingsworth 4 solos; Eli Cross 3 solos, 1 ast.; Jack Shonts 3 solos; Zeke Garrison 1 solo, 2 ast.; Spencer MaKuch 1 ast., 1 INT w/10-yd return (WV).
Records: No. 1 (6A) Bradley Central 4-0; No. 9 (5A) Walker Valley 3-1.