By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
WALNUT – For the first time in nine years, the Joe Bowl Trophy will have a new home: Falkner High School.
Thursday night, in the 12th edition of the Joe Bowl, the Falkner Eagles dominated both sides of the ball and routed the Walnut Wildcats 40-7 before a packed crowd at Wildcat Stadium. It was Falkner’s first win against their North Tippah neighbor since 2003, snapping a seven-game losing streak. The game was not played in 2009.
The Joe Bowl is named for the late Joe Horton, who was head coach at both schools.
“In Year 2, this is a pretty big win for our program,” said second-year Eagles coach Ben Ashley. “They could have beat us 70-0 last year, and this just goes to show how far we’ve come.”
The Eagles trailed 7-0 on Walnut’s only score of the game, a two-yard run by Devonte Bell late in the first quarter.
After that, it was all Falkner.
Falkner scored four times in the second quarter, with touchdowns runs of 27, 14, and 4 yards by sophomore running back Jereamie Lawrence.
Tray Woody added his first of two scores with just under two minutes to play in the half to put the Eagles ahead 26-7 at the break.
Lawrence finished with 117 yards on 15 carries.
“It feels great. We got the Joe Bowl Trophy back,” said Lawrence, who rushed for 160 yards and four scores in Week 1. “We executed and it came out like we hoped.”
Falkner QB Jase Stroupe was the night’s leading rusher with 16 carries for 135 yards. His 56-yard run on the second play of the third quarter set up his 14-yard pass to Adam Hearn that extended the Eagles led to 33-7.
Woody added his second score of the night, a 26-yard run to round out the scoring. Lawrence, Stroupe and Woody combined for 295 yards on the ground, while Walnut managed just 73 though three quarters.
Working the plan
“Coach had a plan for us. He told us to come out and hit them in the mouth and that’s what we did,” said Falkner senior defense end Dustin McCoy. “We worked hard and it showed.”
Walnut coach John Meeks didn’t make any excuses but said it was tough losing two starters on the first series.
“Give all the credit to Falkner, they deserve it,” said Meeks. “They smashed it down our throats.”